April 23, 2010
There are true criminals being jailed in Atlanta and the surrounding suburbs on a daily basis. Real crime deserves real punishment by law. Yet, there is another kind of criminal process that is less formal and often discussed behind the backs of other people or not at all.
This undercover “criminal” process concerns heart violations caused by personal offenses. Yet, the system mimics the criminal judicial process. Likely, silent charges are being pressed right now against someone for some wrong doing. For example, “charges” were pressed against a spouse who disrespected their mate during a discussion. A warrant was issued for that person who cut us off in traffic. The death sentence is about to be issued for that date who kept us waiting and still has not called. Let’s not forget those life sentences for the people who offended us 5, 10, or even 20 years ago. Those perpetrators still cannot get parole under our conditions.
These flagrant offenses simply pile up and everyone who has wronged us gets convicted by a silent jury of one. While the jailed offenders get their due process by law, there is another law at work in the spiritual realm-grace. Believe it or not, we are responsible for understanding and practicing God’s law of grace concerning the habitual or momentary offenders we encounter.
Psalm 103:8-10 reminds us that God does not hold any wrong doing against us even when we do not meet his expectations. “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.”
People will not meet our expectations. They may even purposely wrong us in some way. The fact remains that personal charges and convictions we make every moment of every day produce absolutely nothing of value to God. The conditional terms we hold other people accountable for are worthless. In reality, the outcome of these silent trials we hold in our hearts are still pending under biblical terms. It is encouraging to know that God gracefully waits for our hearts to catch up with that fact.
Toward the end of his experience on the cross in Luke 23:34, Jesus said these words, “"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." Jesus willfully dropped the charges against the people who abused him because he believed in the end that God would be glorified. If the people who abused Jesus had not experienced grace, they would have no reason to believe in God.
In the end, the only terms that truly matter are God’s. Our concern should revolve around the choices we make and the judgment that we have to stand accountable for. As we live each day, we have a chance to start over completely. We have a chance to wipe slates clean for people around us the same way God does for us. Drop the charges without apologies, and without insisting that somebody make it right. By the power of Jesus, we have the freedom to release the prisoners bound in our hearts to make room for the abounding love that God wants us to have there.