Mel Gibson and Rene Russo compare scars from multiple injuries obtained in the line of duty as police officers. This is Hollywood’s idea of a seduction scene in an action movie.
How many times do we do the same thing?
“I’m never talking to her again after what she said about my son.”
“If you knew what that woman does to her so-called friends, you’d run away as quickly as you can.”
“That church is full of hypocrites. They hurt my feelings by…”
We’ve heard these and other similar cries of woe and mistreatment too often to recount. Sometimes our lips have uttered them.
Poor me. You’ll never believe what she said to me.
Putting it into Perspective
In a devotional from the Daily Bread during the week prior to Easter, I read Isaiah 53. This chapter is a prophetic revelation of Jesus Christ. It was a perfect reading during the season remembering his death and resurrection.
“He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities” (Is. 53:5).
Jesus Christ lived a perfect life. He didn’t rub his perfection in anyone’s face (although many of us are tempted to prance around in our pseudo-perfection). Instead, he meekly served other people: feeding the hungry, healing the sick, uplifting the oppressed, loving the publicans and sinners.
In return, he was wounded. This wasn’t just a bullet scar on the hip or a barbed-wire fence jag on the back of the hand. Scourging and beating that cut deep and made him bleed.
He took this punishment for us. Willingly and humbly submitting himself to sin-cursed Roman soldiers.
Not just because he loved us, either. It was required. Our transgressions, iniquities, SINS demanded payment: death. He did nothing worthy of death but sacrificed himself because we would die eternally if payment wasn’t made.
Never once do you hear Jesus saying, “They nailed my hands to a rough stick of wood, so I’m not going to save them.”
They hurt me so I’m going to wash my hands of them – after I hurt them back.
Nope. That would be something we say. Jesus says, “I forgive you.” No strings attached. No questions asked. No apologies demanded.
If you want it to be about you…
The truth of the matter is when it comes to being hurt, we think our wounds are bigger than anyone else could ever comprehend.
“But you don’t know what they did to me!”
Did they scourge you with a nine-tailed whip? Pluck out your hair? Beat you with rods? Drive nails in your hands and feet? Smash thorns into your skull?
Oh, right, but that was Jesus. He can endure anything. On the other hand, I’m only human so if someone spreads a rumor about me, I’m completely justified in holding a grudge against them. Better yet, I can tell everyone in the world what a horrible person they are.
The bottom line is sometimes people hurt us – wound us deeply – and we didn’t deserve it. We were completely innocent.
Most of the time, we were in a shouting match with them and things were said that cut deep. We are not innocent. We played a part in the situation. In fact, the bigger the part we played, the bigger our need to justify how much we were wronged.
“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth” (Is. 53:7).
When we cry and complain about how we’ve been wronged, we’re making it all about us, our feelings, our rights.
What about Jesus? Didn’t He deserve a fair trial? After all, he was innocent of sin and guilty of spending his energy to serve others. Why didn’t he speak up?
As always, he was leaving an example for us. Others talked about the cruel treatment Jesus received, but Jesus didn’t show up after his resurrection and say, “Look at these scars. Can you believe what those soldiers did to me?”
Before we can truly forgive others, we have to get a clear picture of who we are and what we “deserve.”
If we want to compare scars, Jesus will hold out his hands toward us. Whatever we have suffered, he has suffered more. But you don’t hear him talking about it. He doesn’t go on about how much he’s been hurt.
He let go of the hurt. In order to forgive, you must release your so-called right to be vindicated.
“I was wronged. They should admit it. Everyone should understand how valid my bitterness is.”
Before you open up to complain about your wounds, hold out your hands. Let Christ show you his scars.
Suddenly, there isn’t much to talk about.
Next week: Five truths about Forgiveness