6/16/2021 – Pastor Brian’s Blog –
God has given Judy and me opportunities that if we had a whole lifetime, we could not have been able to dream up. We have met countless people, some well-known in Christian circles and others not so much, that have left a long-lasting impact on our lives. We have been to Israel not once but twice and both times God provided free trips! We have gone on mission trips, we have been to numerous foreign countries to teach God’s Word, plus I get to pastor a church!
As I was thinking of all this today, my mind went to a time when Judy and I were in England doing ministry. After a weekend conference in Scotland we left for England with my friend Roger. Along the way, Roger asked me if I wanted to drive. (You do know that they drive on the opposite side of the road, right?)
Of course I said yes, because if I have to travel, I like to drive. Things were going well until… until I came to that roundabout. For whatever reason, I went into the roundabout like I was entering the traffic circle in Alton, NH. Roger is screaming at me, cars are coming right at me, people are blowing their horns, and the things they were saying, well let’s just say they aren’t smiling. Judy is seeing death pass before her eyes, and me… I was just trying to get through the turn without hitting anyone head on!
Once I got through the roundabout, Roger was quite ready for me to pull off the road and turn the steering wheel over to him. It was quite amazing to me that even though we were there for the remainder of the week, not once did Roger ask me again if I wanted to drive!
As I was thinking about that experience today, I do remember seeing much passion in the eyes and actions of the oncoming drivers. One thing I did not see much of was compassion for this American. On the contrary, I remember seeing people that, if it were possible, they wanted to do a lot more to me than just blow their horns!
Yet, aren’t personal relationships just like this sometimes? Things are going well and all of a sudden someone takes the wrong turn, and you react and want to do them harm! Someone says something that hurts you, or someone that you considered to be a friend walks out of your life. Maybe someone at church, even your pastor does something you do not like and it hurts. It could be that you had someone take advantage of you, or told lies about you. Maybe something worse than all this happens. And you are upset, because at that moment they have moved into your personal lane.
You now need to decide: are you going to travel with that hurt and offense for the remainder of the trip, or will you drop off that pain at the first exit ramp. I know there are times when we think that we can justify hanging on to that hurt, and we justify it with excuses. Excuses like ‘I can’t forgive that person; it hurts too much.’ Or ‘I can’t allow them to take advantage of me; I don’t deserve that kind of treatment!’
Yet God says when people come at you, when they hurt you or mistreat you, when they drive into your lane, instead of coming for them, we are to treat them as God treats us…
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.Colossians 3:12-15
Forgiveness is our opportunity to show off Jesus. Our opportunity to take that compassion that Jesus has given us and show it off to others. Please understand what forgiveness is not. Forgiveness is not pretending to forget, nor does it erase all consequences. True forgiveness is our opportunity to show “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” and not bitterness. Forgiveness is living in the sovereignty of God; it is about trusting God and leaving the pain with Him.
Biblical forgiveness is looking that person in the eye and saying that you love God more than you hate their offense. And because you love God, you will chose to “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Remember, there is nothing anyone will do to you or me, that we have not done to God.
I didn’t see much compassion that day when I went the wrong way in the roundabout. I did not find anyone leaning out their car window shouting, ‘I forgive you!’ Forgiveness may not happen all at once, but forgiveness can begin with you. Besides, when we turn the wheel of our life over to God and forgive, it is not binding at all. As a matter of fact it actually sets us free!