Lets call this an exercise. It might sound like I’m getting political, but I promise it’ll barely scrape the surface before I get back on topic. And the topic is a single question test to help you understand where you stand spiritually. It’s not meant as anything other than a personal self assessment in one key area of faith.
Jesus, our intercessor, is often seen as standing at the gates of Heaven. He will, as promised, vouch for those who have received His gift of salvation. The Bible calls it, among other things, the separation of grains from weeds.
Before we get going, I’d like to ask you to think of 2 names. See, I’m not even going to mention them. These 2 figures have been in political news non stop for months and likely won’t be left out of the news for the foreseeable future. Most likely one of the two names brings up feelings of unhappiness. In many people, the feelings are much stronger. If I’m to believe social media, both of these people are absolutely hated by the opposing party. If you aren’t wrapped up in the political turmoil then pick your current enemy number 1.
Some of us, get so agitated at the mere mention of the name, we probably already forgot what we are doing. So all I want you to do is to think about those 2 people for a minute. Got a good image? All set on their character, beliefs, motives, and class? Good.
Now, lets pretend for a moment that Jesus pulls you aside at the gates of Heaven. He has a task for you. Those 2 people are right behind you in line. In your ear, He whispers the following:
I have already paid for their sins. On the cross I endured absence from my Father while I took on the whole burden of all sin. I was sacrificed and now is the time to deem people entrance or deny, forever, access to the Father. I know how horrible time away from God is and it forced me to cry out in anguish for all to hear. To be away from God is to be forsaken. Lost. Alone. Horribly and wretchedly doomed. I will not share their secrets or their sins, nor their accomplishments. You only have the knowledge you have brought into death. What sentence would you pass on to these 2 people? Should they be allowed to praise God forever, or weep for eternity? Should I forsake them?
And thus begins your test. Knowing only what social media or biased media has provided you, are you ready to condemn others to an eternity of Hell? Are your sins lesser? Is God unable or incapable of forgiving?
I’ll remind you of a single scripture before you are asked to answer.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. – Ephesians 4:31-32
Can you do it? Can you pass judgement on these people? Can your conscience bear the weight of eternal consequences? I praise God every day that I am not a judge (in earthly or heavenly matters). Passing out penalty is not something I envy. Although it is much needed, I could not be the one to decide when a price should be paid. Thankfully, the Bible makes it easy. Forgive debts. Forgive crimes against us. Forgive each other.
This doesn’t mean to let people ruin the world with chaos. This means that we are free from the burden of consequences when we forgive those who wrong us. This affectively makes it “their” problem. To not forgive is to hold on. Picture Ebenezer Scrooge hoarding receipts, demanding payments, double checking the locks on all of his money… Its a task to hold grudges. Its a burden. When you forgive, both parties become free.
OK, no more preaching. It’s time to answer… Did you learn anything about yourself?
Was it hard to give grace to someone like this?
Did you find feelings of hatred stir up inside?
If you found that your emotions don’t exactly line up with the many, many verses in the Bible about forgiveness and judgement, then you are in the right place. You are able to see the difference which will allow you to change your behavior. The Christ-Like servant does not publicly hate or judge. Instead, we pray. If you believe, as the Bible tells us, that no one is beyond the reach of God’s grace, then you must also believe that everyone is worth praying for.
The bottom line is are you are a hater or a pray-er? Who do you choose to be today?