Luke 10:29 – But [the lawyer], willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? (KJV)
I recall an instance in my life when I found forgiveness to be an extreme struggle to resolve.
One evening, I had just finished reading Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37. I closed my Bible, and said out loud, "That's a good question, Lord. Who is my neighbour?"
I envisioned myself upon the road to Jericho, where an angel appeared. "Fear not," the angel said to me. "The Lord Jesus Christ has sent me to you."
On the road, I saw two people lying face down, badly beaten, near death, in desperate need of help.
On top of a large rock next to the bodies were two golden vials, one for each wounded person. The angel explained, "The oil and wine in the vials have healing properties that will make them whole again. The Lord Jesus Christ sent you here to help your neighbour." My heart welled up with love and compassion.
Very gently, the angel turned each person face up. The first person had reached out to me during one of the darkest, most hopeless periods in my life. This person had given me hope, showing me genuine, unconditional love and mercy, and lifted me up when I so desperately needed it.
But I gasped in horror as I looked upon the face of the other person. Angrily, I blurted out, "This person took extreme advantage of me and did immeasurable damage to my self-esteem! I was abused not only physically, but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, and suffered great fear and depression."
Covering my face, I began to tremble, and wept uncontrollably. I kept shaking my head in utter disbelief. Raw feelings of rage, hatred, bitterness, and revenge had surfaced — feelings that I didn't even know I had.
I couldn't deal with all of this! But hadn't Jesus sent the angel to me? Then surely, this could only be for my good.
The angel looked at me and said, "Who is your neighbour, and what will you do?"
With head bowed and heart extremely heavy, my flesh wrestled with my spirit. I kept looking back and forth at the figures on the road and the golden vials, then finally, I stammered out my answer. "Two," I said. "I'll take both vials!"
With that answer, a peace and joy that I had never known began to pour over me. I dried my tears as I went to gather the vials from the rock. To my surprise, I saw Jesus standing there, and my heart leaped!
"So, You didn't leave me here to do this all by myself," I said, relieved and happy.
"I was here all the time," Jesus said to me. "You just couldn't see Me clearly because hatred and unforgiveness distorted your vision."
Then, with a smile on His face that melted my heart, the Living Oil and Wine took my hand as we walked over to the bodies, and I watched as He gently and so lovingly administered healing and restored them.
There is a wonderful release of healing, joy, love, and cleansing that springs forth from the well of forgiveness.
Apologies are nice to receive from someone who has wronged us, but what if we never get an apology? What if the person who hurt us has passed away? God knows exactly how we feel. Forgiveness is life changing!
Prayer: Lord, thank You for knowing exactly how we feel in every situation. Thank You for the power of forgiveness. Help us to choose today to forgive those who have trespassed against us. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
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