Do we try to live like Jesus? We say we are Christians, so, it should follow that we are making a serious effort to live like Jesus lived, as the apostle John said, to ‘walk like He walked.’ We can convince ourselves that we are doing that, not perfectly, but making a sincere effort. But, are we really?
Jesus’ teaching that we should love as He loved is clear. No one will argue with this principle.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35 NKJV)
“…as I have loved you.” That’s pretty straightforward. Do we do that? Here’s a test.
Jesus said we are to love our enemies, even pray for them.
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, (Matthew 5:43-44 NKJV)
Loving includes forgiving. Recall the familiar statement of Jesus from the Lord’s Prayer or “Our Father.”
And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. (Matthew 6:12 NKJV)
Then there is the amazing request of our Lord from the cross.
Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34 NKJV)
Now the test. Could we have done that? Could you have done that? Could I do that? Perhaps we could create a hypothetical similar to this and imagine it possible. Maybe we could look back in time and say, “I think I could.”
Actually though, that’s not the real test. The real test is, “Am I doing it now?” Who has wronged you? Have you forgiven them? Not a difficult test to take. But a real hard one to pass.
Forgiving like Jesus may be the hardest part of the Christian life. “I have done nothing to deserve this, yet they have done such-and-such to me,” we say. “I have a right to fair treatment and this is grossly unfair.” How can I forgive someone who has deeply injured me, or worse, hurt my family member? I must figure it out, because if I’m not like Jesus in forgiveness, I’m not a Christian; I just say I am.
Here are two thoughts that help me.
One, this a unique opportunity to be salt and light. Hardly anyone forgives their enemies. The norm is to get them back with vengeance, not forgive them. If I can forgive them, because I am a Christian, then others get a taste of how powerful Christianity is. They taste the salt and see the light of Christ in my life, which is a lot of the point of God saving me – so I could lead others to Him by my example.
Two, if I can forgive, I can be free. Anger, resentment, and bitterness are enslaving. If I allow them to control me, I will never be free. If I allow them to dwell in me, they will control me. The way out, the way to freedom – is forgiveness. It’s impossible, without Christ. He showed the way by His own forgiveness of those in the very act of murdering Him. And, He forgave me. If I am serious about loving like Jesus, I will be a forgiver.