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Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

“Could you talk to Janey? Sarah beat her up again.” The voice on the other end of the line was a concerned mom from one of my kids in youth group. Her daughter, Janey was friends with one of the toughest kids in school. Usually the two got along fine. But Sarah’s family was abusive and full of anger, rage and violence. If Sarah were having a bad day, she was a time-bomb ready to go off on anyone who was near. Most kids in school just left her alone. In fact, she really only had one friend in the entire school-Janey.

Try as we might, we could never keep the two apart. Janey insisted that Sarah needed Jesus. “If I’m not her friend, who will be?” was her constant argument. That was over 30 years ago. Today Sarah is living out east. She’s a grandma and married to a wonderful Christian man!

I often wonder what would have happened if Janey had listened to us and abandoned her friend. Social wisdom says we leave people alone who may hurt us. ‘Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me’ is the rule to live by safely. If you know someone is going to fail you, avoid them. Protect yourself. Don’t trust them. Don’t let yourself be taken advantage of and made the fool.

The problem with social wisdom is that it runs contrary to what Jesus taught us while he was here on earth. One night, he knelt at the feet of each of his disciples to wash their feet. He did that knowing that in a few short hours, each of these men would abandon him. One would publicly deny him. Another would sell him to the enemy for a measly 30 pieces of silver. One would run away naked. All of them left him in his time of deepest need.

Even though he knew they would fail him, he forgave them and loved them. He’s doing the same thing today. Jesus knew you’d fail the day he went to the cross for you. He knows the things you struggle with. None of that surprises him. Your sin doesn’t surprise Jesus. Your rebellion doesn’t keep him from loving you and standing by you in your time of need.

In the same way, we are called to love those around us. Don’t be surprised when people fail you. Like you, they are human, and humans naturally sin. Sometimes we may need to be wise and protect ourselves from physical harm, but we should never stop forgiving, never stop loving, never stop lifting those who’ve hurt is in prayer.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. I don’t think I’ll ever understand why you are so forgiving when we are so rebellious and stubborn. Thank you that you haven’t given up on me. Thank you that even though I’m going to try to keep from sin, you know I’ll fail and you will forgive me when I repent and come to you for healing. Empower me with your Spirit to live for you. Empower me to forgive as you have forgiven. In your name I pray, Amen.

 

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