"Forgive Them" - Saturday, April 20, 2019 - by Dianne Prince
And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34 (KJV)
In our scripture today, Jesus has been crucified. The Roman guards have force Simon from Cyrene, an innocent bystander from a port in North Africa, to carry the cross. Simon drug the heavy cross behind Jesus to the place of crucifixion. Because Jewish law forbade the death sentence to be carried out within the city boundaries, Jesus was executed outside the city wall, north of Jerusalem. During the journey, He was being insulted and abused by the crowd. The rulers sneered. The soldiers mocked and onlookers insulted him.
Once at Calvary, Jesus was nailed to the cross. As the soldiers hammered Jesus’ hands and feet to the cross, He prayed to God, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34, KJV) The question is, “Who is ‘them’ and who is ‘they?’” In today’s world, in this twenty-first century, “them and they” are anyone who has offended you, anyone who has done you wrong, anyone who has scandalized your name, taken advantage of you, and set out to destroy you. Jesus says, “Forgive them.”
What does, “For they know not what they do” mean? It means those killing Jesus did not realize they were crucifying the Son of God, the Messiah, and the Savior of the world. Along the same lines, people many times do not always know that what they said hurt you. They do not always know something they did offended you. They do not know the way they looked at you hurt your feelings. That is why Jesus says, “If another believer sins against you, go to him or her privately and point out the offense.” (Matthew 15:18, NIV) Give them the opportunity to explain what they meant by what they said. You will be surprised at how most hurting comments can be clarified and how most misunderstood words can be cleared up.
Jesus taught us if there is an issue between you and another person, don't you wait for them to come to you, but, you take the initiative. He makes it clear that forgiveness does not depend on who was right or who was wrong. The thing that is important to God is for you to reconcile broken relationships as much as lies within your power to do so. He commands you to take full responsibility to reconcile, even if the other person is wrong. He expects you to take the high road, and apologize if necessary, in an effort to get strained relationships back on track.
When Peter asked Jesus, "How often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times? Jesus said, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seven times seventy.’” With that said, should you keep a tally of every time a person offends you and after being offended four hundred and ninety times, you do not have to forgive them anymore? That is not the scripture’s intent. The point is no limits should be set on the number of times you forgive a person. (Luke 17:4, NIV)
We have all been wronged. We have been mistreated. We have been victims of backbiting, backstabbing and objects of slander. And, some of us are being mistreated right now. We are mistreated verbally. We are mistreated mentally. We are mistreated by being given the “silent treatment”. We are mistreated by being left out, cut out, overlooked, ignored, disregarded, and snubbed.
When mistreated, the human side of us wants to settle the score. We want to punish the one who is the source of our mistreatment. We desire to get revenge on the very one who caused us heartache. And we want to inflict the same pain on the one who wronged us. However, revenge is God’s job, not yours. Payback is left for God to handle, not you. Retaliation is God’s department, not yours. God says in Romans 12:19, “Vengeance is mine. I will repay saith the Lord.”
When someone hurts you—deliberately or without intending to do so—you have two choices: 1) you can hold on to anger, resentment and thoughts of revenge, or 2) you can accept what happened, forgive, and move on. When you forgive, you give up the right to get even. You relinquish the desire within you to settle the score. You forgive, not for the sake of the other person, but you forgive for your sake. By not forgiving a person, you are allowing them to have control over your mind, your actions, your peace, and most of all your fellowship with God.
How do you forgive? Follow the example of Jesus. He prayed, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34, KJV) Pray for your enemies. Pray for God to bless them and give them the desires of their hearts. The more you pray for your enemies to be blessed, God, in the process, changes you to see your enemies through His eyes. God, in the process, gives you peace in the midst of the battle. In the process, God softens your heart and changes you to be more like Him.
Additional daily inspirations are available in the book Stronger and Wiser by Dianne Prince.