“Be careful how you live. You may be the only Bible some people ever read.” -Author Unknown
Eric and Diane had just stood up in their Church service volunteering to give even more time to prayer. Little did they know what they would see when they reached home. After the message and fellowship, they drove home on that beautiful day. As they reached home, suddenly they saw the lock on their front door was broken. When their eyes fell on the living room, everything was torn apart. When they went to their bedroom, the cupboard was ripped open and all the gold was gone: cameras, passports, wedding money, etc. all had disappeared. Slowly, they made their way back to the sitting room and standing in the mess they prayed, “Lord we ask you to bless this robber. God we forgive this man right now. We ask that you would provide for all his needs so he wouldn’t have to behave in this way. We request that all that was taken would be blessed by You so his life can be touched by Your Love.”
People are Watching You
People all around us are watching our actions and reactions. That is why Saint Francis says, “Preach the gospel at all times—if necessary use words.” If your house had been plundered and robbed, how would you respond? How we respond when we are mistreated is very important. Not just because Jesus is watching, but because people are watching us too. If we say, “I am a disciple of Jesus,” then they will look carefully, “What does he do; how does he act; what does he say.” Whether we have been robbed, or some cruel gossip or harm has come upon us, we are all tempted to bitterness when someone hurts us. Eric and Diane never had their belongings returned. The thief was never caught, but a big victory was achieved that day because they forgave instead of cursed.
As Jesus was sending out His disciples for ministry He said, “Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:8) What is it that we have received freely from our Master? We who have been selfish, hateful, hurtful, lashing others with our gossip and envy? What have we received freely from Jesus? There is only one answer, and that is forgiveness. There is no way for us to earn forgiveness. Forgiveness is a pardon from our wrong, which Jesus gives freely to each of us. In the same way, Jesus wants us to turn and generously extend forgiveness to others. This is what Eric and Diane did to the thief, and though there was earthly loss, there was heavenly gain. A lost soul received powerful prayer. Maybe no one else has ever prayed or forgave that person in such a way, so we can be certain that something mighty was transacted on a spiritual level. Forgiving freely is how our Lord wants each of us to respond to those who have sinned against us.
“But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” -Matthew 5:44-45
“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you…” -Luke 6:27