|This humble sun flower grows along the roadsides here in Temecula. It has no fame or glory, and we barely have time to appreciate it as we speed by, but it faithfully stays where it has been planted, tossed by the wind and weather beaten by the elements.. it's seeds continue to spread and cause a multitude of sproutlings doing the work for whatever cause the sower intended.|
Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
In the context, Jesus is speaking about those who stood around at His crucifixion..
waiting, watching, mocking. These were ignorant men who truly did not know God!
We see them at Steven's death also.
While Steven preached he received taunts, insults, persecutions, and the throwing of stones which took his precious life. Even then, with Steven's last breath he looked up to heaven and prayed, "Father, forgive them for they don't know what they were doing".
I have to admit, I have only a few times been persecuted for my faith, but the times I was, it was by those who ignorantly denied Jesus and were blinded to the truth.
It was actually easy for me to forgive them!
But today I pose another situation, what is our response to offenses that come our way by those who are not ignorant of our Father in heaven.
Hurts and pains that come our way by sister's and brothers in the Lord!
It happens, maybe much more often than it should, maybe unintentionally.. and maybe not.
My thoughts here aren't towards the offender, but towards those who are offended.
I recently read a book called, "Candle In The Dark".
The main character, Caroline, is a gentle Southern Belle, raised in Virginia to a wealthy family with a mammy and a household of slaves. She is torn by the abuse her slaves received and is determined to help put an end to slavery.
She is considered the heroine of the story, but I was drawn to the character Eli.
It was Eli's wisdom and love for the Lord, that guided and directed Caroline's heart.
This strong stable slave who's love for his master Jesus, is lived out by his service and allegiance to his earthly masters while in the midst of seeing his loved ones separated and sold to other owners, children taken from their mothers' arms, and their wives thrown in to the arms of white men to be their concubines.
Eli's unfailing love and loyalty never diminish and his work is always done in an attitude of worship and adoration for his Lord.
The white slave owner's knew the word of God!
These men preached the gospel, and at times they sat in service with their slaves at the back of the church "worshipping the same Lord". (hmmm)
The gospel they received was contorted because of selfishness and pride.. but then, don't we at times contort the truth to suit our own purposes?
In the book of James it tells us why we fight and quarrel;
"What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel"... (James 4:1,2)
The word lust here is defined as; Anything we covet, desire greatly, or long for.
Like our own way!
How do we respond to offenses?
Do we respond "loving our Master Jesus and the life HE lived?"
I would like my responses to be gentle and forbearing, with humility and LOVE.
I have been tested lately.. I F-A-I-L ! Truth be told.. my failure doesn't come by way of verbal responses, my failure comes through bitterness. I keep records of wrongs. UGHHH.. :(
My inward responses are a REMEDY FOR MY OWN COMFORT!
Love...Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)
Love covers, Love veils, Love conceals, our own motives,
and is replaced with, "the motive of Christ !"
Christ's motive was love!
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
(hmmm.. here's a thought Laurie.. take on an eternal perspective!)
Christ's reaction was sacrificial!
"Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross". (Philippians 2:8)
(humility.. ouch, I think I am owed kudos. another FAIL)
Love is sacrificial!
It gives no room for the "Me" factor, but looks to the cross of Jesus and say's, "not my will, but Your will be done." It say's, Master Jesus, make me a servant to others as I long to serve You, and help me to do it with an attitude of reverence, and humility, for my Master in Heaven!
Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. (Matthew 16:24)
lust, self preservation and protection, I want I want I want.. then
To Love the life of JESUS!