Giving in Order to Receive
Jesus, in the end, gave us a couple of important nuggets of wisdom and wisdom brings about long life (Proverbs 3:17-19), those being the parable of the unmerciful servant, and what God does with those who do not forgive (Matthew 18:21-35, Matthew 6:14-15). The fact is, if you don't at least wrestle with forgiving, you are not going to receive the forgiveness of God. It seems a little unfair of God to withhold forgiveness from someone who is grievously wronged, but in the end, it's not God doing this. It's us.
The biggest evidence of God working His way into us is His grace working its way out of us. Nowhere is this more evident than in the forgiving nature of Jesus Christ on the cross. In the documentary movie "Emanuel," most of the families of those people slain by Dyllan Roof at the Emanuel AME Church expressed the very nature of God and of Jesus Christ in that they came forward and forgave the young man who snuffed out the lives of the men and women at the church that night. What the devil intended as a defiant call to a deepening divide between two races that were already deeply divided, the love of the Holy Spirit poured out of the hearts of these people and showed a nation that they were indeed disciples of Jesus Christ.
The young man may be human garbage to many people because of the heinous crimes he committed out of the genuine brokenness of who he is, but to them, he is a beloved child of the Most High God, in dire need of prayer and healing of his heart. They see him like that because Jesus saw him like that, all the way from the cross nearly 2,000 years ago. At the moment that he saw that young man, he still chose to die for him.
How could we dishonor Jesus' death by continuing to call the one he died for worthless when Jesus saw it differently? There is no human garbage in need of disposal. There are only human beings in need of grace.
Roland Millington is a United Methodist Church pastor serving Brimfield United Methodist Church in Brimfield, IL. He's the author of two books available digitally through our store, or as hard copies through LuLu Publishing.