“Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they’re doing.” Jesus managed to utter those penetrating words through bleeding, cracked lips, swollen from the noonday sun. Impaled on that cruel, Roman cross, He interceded on behalf of His enemies. What a magnificent model of forgiveness!
He paid the penalty in full for the sins of the world, the just for the unjust. As a result of His sacrificial death, reconciliation was made between man and God. He’s our model for correctly resolving disputes. Ultimately, it’s a matter of forgiveness.
“Father, forgive them . . . ” What a way to live!
Before going on, you may have some honest reflecting to do. I invite you to revisit your own unhealed wounded past. It may date back many years, it may bring to mind the face of a parent, child, friend, former mate, fellow employee, boss, coach, pastor, or sibling. They’ve wounded you. The pain has lingered all these years. You can’t even hear their name or see a photograph without all the anger and mistrust flooding your soul like a river overtaking its banks.
My friend, it’s time to move on. Seek a solution. Get help from someone else, if you must. But get on with it. Whatever it takes to be free, do that.
Right now, I invite you to stand all alone at the foot of the cross, look up to Him, and deliberately release it all. See Him hanging there, bleeding and dying, and embrace His forgiveness, for you and for your enemy. By forgiving, you’re not condoning their sin. You’re simply leaving that to God. That’s His turf, not yours. That’s grace. And you can offer it to others because you don’t deserve it either.
Got a little homework to do? Get started on it before it gets too late and you lose your way home.
Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.