“Can you believe this? He called me ‘Mister’!”
“What’s wrong with the word ‘mister’?”
“Only a jerk would call someone by THAT label!”
“How should he have called you?”
“He’s a jerk, and I don’t ever want to see his face again!”
How easy it is to start a holy war that can last generations, sometimes over insignificant incidents! When I was young (I am still young of heart, does that count?), my dad forbade me to go to a certain pharmacy. When I asked him why, I was told that the pharmacist was a jerk. No other explanation was forth coming.
I couldn’t help but wonder just what kind of person the pharmacist might be. I imagined a stooped old man who yelled at anyone who entered his store, and although I shouldn’t have disobeyed my dad, every time I had to go to the pharmacy I went to… yes, you guessed it! To my dad’s archenemy!
Although the pharmacist knew who I was, he always treated me with the utmost respect. For my part, I spent my time scrutinizing this individual, searching for his hidden bad traits. I always came up empty, however. He wasn’t even old (nowadays fifty is no longer “old”), let alone stooped!
Why rage wars against people who haven’t done anything against us? Then again, why wage the war of unforgiveness, even though we HAVE been bitterly hurt? Aren’t we the ones who suffer the most when we don’t forgive?
While at our Christian concert, Rebecca St. James mentioned the wave of forgiveness that had taken place in Rwanda, where ethnic cleansing had eradicated 75% of the Tutsis people.
It started in 1923, when Belgian colonists (you can find rascals in any country) set up the Tutsis as the elite ruling class of Rwanda. The Hutus, being the other ethnic group in Rwanda, began to bitterly hate the Tutsis who had, at one time, been their friends.
In 1994 that hatred turned into a blood bath. Under majority Hutu rule, permission was given to eradicate the “Tutsi cockroaches”. Hunting expeditions were organized and the Tutsis were hunted down. Whether they were found in their homes, in their churches, in their places of employment, or in public places, the Tutsis were mercilessly attacked by machetes and killed.
This genocide lasted for 100 days, and millions of Tutsis were eradicated. When order was once again restored, it was estimated that to bring justice to the land, more than a hundred years would be needed to try and convict every accomplice. It would be an impossible task.
A plan was devised to bring unity to the land. Government officials encouraged forgiveness, and a program was established where Hutus and Tutsis would build homes and cultivate land together. The same machetes that brought bloodshed were now used to restore unity in Rwanda. As a result, unbelievable stories of forgiveness appeared all around the country.
An example of this forgiveness can be found in the story of Seth. One day, Seth received a letter from those who had exterminated his brother’s family. They begged him for his forgiveness, and invited him to come by for a visit.
Seth decided to meet with them, and when he did, he discovered that he could no longer be angry with them. Instead of hatred and unforgiveness, the meeting ended by Seth embracing his family’s murderers. As a result, Seth was able to discover where his family was buried, and he was able to say his last good-byes.
Are you willing to end all feuds and embrace those you have hated for so long? It’s worth it! Once you experience being able to forgive though the merits of Jesus, you will become truly free!
“In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.” (Matt 6:14-15 The Message)
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36 NIV)
P. S. By the way, you can call me Mister. I really don’t mind. How can I? You are my friend!
(To access the entire “Ruthless Pursuit of Gold” devotional series, please click here.)