“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” James 1:19-20
If there was ever a man on earth who had every right to be angry, it was Jesus. Just think about who he was – the Son of God! Think about what he came to do – show the world the love of God. Think about what happened to him – he was stripped, beaten, spit on, mocked, and murdered…and he was COMPLETELY innocent! At any time during Jesus’ painful trial and execution he could have responded with fierce unimaginable fury and destroyed all humanity and He would have been COMPLETELY justified in doing so. But when the insults were at their loudest, when the blistering sun was at its hottest, and when the pain of those nails ripping through flesh was at its worst, Jesus did the unbelievable and chose mercy over vengeance. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) This is the final prayer of Jesus as he hung on the cross moments from death. How could he say such a thing? How could he forgive those undeserving of forgiveness? “I have come from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him who sent me.” (John 6:38)
Jesus didn’t live for himself, he lived for his Father in heaven. God’s will, accomplished through Jesus’ obedience, was to offer forgiveness to those who don’t deserve it – sinners like you and me. Why forgiveness? Because forgiveness accomplishes in a heartbeat what justice and punishment never can – a restored relationship.
When we get angry at others for their offenses against us we should ask ourselves this question - do I have a right to treat this person any different than Jesus treated me for my offense against him? The answer will always be NO. We forgive because the Lord has forgiven us and because there is healing power in forgiveness that anger and justice cannot produce.
“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13
GOD OF FORGIVENESS, YOUR PERFECT LOVE IS DEMONSTRATED THROUGH YOUR GRACE AND MERCY. LET YOUR PERFECT LOVE FLOW THROUGH ME AND OUT ONTO THE WORLD AROUND ME. HELP ME TO HONESTLY AND QUICKLY SEEK FORGIVENESS FOR THE SINS I COMMIT AND AGAINST YOU AND OTHERS. HELP ME TO OFFER FORGIVENESS TO THOSE WHO OFFEND ME, WHETHER THEY ASK FOR IT OR NOT. I PUT MY ANGER INTO YOUR HANDS. FILL ME WITH THE STRENGTH TO FORGIVE EVEN MY ENEMIES SO THAT THEY WOULD BECOME MY FRIENDS AND WE COULD SHARE IN YOUR SALVATION!