As I continue thinking about the lost in this adventure on Grace and Luke chapter 15, I have been challenged, greatly, by the fact that I am not to be the judge of the lost. After all, what separates me from someone who has lost his/her way is the blurry line of a bad decision. Once again, I’m referring to “lost” as in someone who has lost his/her way…not someone who is not saved.
For instance, let’s look at a not-so-hypothetical situation in which a Father has three children. One day, one of them decides that he doesn’t want to be part of the family anymore. Let’s say that this brother walks very far away from his family and even though his Father tries to get him to come back, the son refuses. Years go by and the Father finally falls ill. In his death bed, the Father desperately longs for his lost son, and tries to hang on to life to see him one last time. It is all to no avail, however, because the Father passes away without seeing his lost son ever again.
In the meantime, the other children who have been faithfully by their Father the whole time, seeing him go from a strong oak to a withered and hollow trunk on the ground, harbor resentment in their souls because they blame the lost son for the suffering brought into the family. The dirt on the grave hasn’t settled yet, when the lost son determines he wants to claim his inheritance. Evidently, this infuriates the faithful children even more. There’s no repentance, no sign of remorse…no justice…only hate.
The justified anger of the faithful children consumes them as they witness the impunity of the lost brother. Hours, days, weeks and months are spent plotting what to do or say if given the chance. Not even seconds are spent in prayer. The unfairness of it all triggers such desire for vengeance that they forget that vengeance is the Lord’s.
The key to their cell’s door is lost when forgiveness ceases to be an option and the faithful children become imprisoned in their own bitterness.
When we refuse to extend grace and forgiveness to those who have wronged us…when we don’t forgive our debtors…we are, in a way, rejecting God’s sense of fairness. We are saying that God’s form of justice is not enough to quench our thirst for reparation. We are saying that God is not able to avenge us in a satisfying manner.
When we judge the lost, we place ourselves above them. We clothe ourselves with the coat of self-righteousness and say: “how could they? I would never do something like that!” We narrow in onto their offense and forget that they are every bit as human as we are and that we are every bit as sinful as they are.
When we don’t forgive those who trespass against us, we seal our fate and bring judgement upon ourselves:
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Matthew 6: 14-15
…therefore, we become lost as well…
Forgiveness may seem unnatural and impossible, but without it, our vision becomes blurred and we lose our way…joining in the aimless caravan of those adrift.
But the same way that unforgiveness causes us to lose our way, forgiveness puts us right back on track. Forgiveness is the gateway that Our Heavenly Father opens up in front of us to free us from our pain and lead us back into His presence. And the fact that we do not forgive by our own power, but by His power in us, made stronger in our weakness, represents the Hand of the Almighty reaching out to us to bring us back to Him. It is only when we clearly see and accept the immensity of what Jesus has already done for us to reconcile us to the Father that we are able to forgive. In the next post we will see how the Good Shepherd allows us to see this truth. In the meantime, may the power of Christ infuse us with the strength to forgive so we can come back to Him and rest in the comfort of His embrace.
For more inspirational readings, check out these blogs I'm linking with: Moreofhim.net, Rosilindjukic.com and Wholeheartedhome.com