Bible Reading: Leviticus 19:16-18
Never seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:18
THINK ABOUT WHAT you would do as you read the following situation.
You’re standing around with your friends in the cafeteria at school, when all of a sudden a teacher comes up. You see one of your best friends point a finger at you and whisper something to the teacher. The teacher grabs you by the collar.
“What’d I do?” you ask.
“You know what you did!” The teacher lifts you by the collar until only your toes are touching the ground and starts dragging you to the principal’s office. You look behind you for help from your friends, but they’ve all disappeared.
When you arrive in the principal’s office, you’re thrown into a chair. You sit, dazed and unbelieving, while one kid after another—some you don’t even know—tell the principal that you broke all the car windows in the school parking lot.
You try to tell the principal that you’re innocent, that you would never do such a thing, that you’ve got witnesses, an alibi. But no one listens. Finally, you’re blindfolded and tied to the school flagpole, where everyone in school gathers to laugh at you and call you names. School lets out, and it starts to get dark and cold, and you’re left there—alone, shivering, in the dark. And innocent.
How would you respond to such a situation? It would make you pretty mad, wouldn’t it? What if it wasn’t a teacher but the religious authorities who arrested you? What if your alleged crime wasn’t breaking windows but planning a rebellion? What if you weren’t taken to the principal’s office but were beaten and tortured until you were almost dead? What if you weren’t tied to a flagpole but were nailed to a cross? What would you do then?
You know what Jesus did. His friends had betrayed him. He had been unjustly accused. He had been ridiculed and spat upon. He had been treated cruelly, viciously. Yet he responded by praying, “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34, NIV).
Why? He had every reason to call down fire from heaven and teach those people a lesson. But he didn’t. Even when they betrayed him, he loved them. Even when they treated him cruelly, he loved them. Even when they killed him, he loved them. Amazing, isn’t it? Almost unbelievable. Yet there it is. That’s what love looks like.
REFLECT: Do you think it’s possible to love someone and “get even” with him or her at the same time? Why or why not? Is there anyone you need to forgive right now? If so, why not do it today?
ACT: The next time you pass a flagpole, remember how Jesus loved and forgave those who hurt him.
PRAY: If you’re dealing with feelings of wanting to get even with someone, ask God to help you love and forgive those who have wronged you.