Blessed to be Broken

God's not finished with me yet!

Moral High Ground

on May 8, 2023

I watched a tv show. To summarize, over time, one woman had done some pretty sketchy things but justified her behavior by saying her actions were what was best for her employer. She was “protecting” them. Another woman, who worked for this same employer, also over time had done some deplorable things per the one who’d done the sketchy things. At some point the woman who’d done the sketchy things, determined the woman who’d done the deplorable things needed to suffer the consequences of her actions.

Now, the woman who’d done the sketchy things, had been forgiven of her transgressions by her employer. You’d think that woulda made her more compassionate towards the woman who’d done the deplorable things. It didn’t. It seemed to make her more determined to see her “enemy” suffer the consequences she felt she deserved. Did she confront the woman she took issue with? No. Instead, these two skeptically watched each other wondering what the other was doing, all the while, doing sketchy and deplorable things.

The time came and the one who’d seemingly done the deplorable things got arrested. As she was being escorted out of the building by police, she saw the one who’d done the sketchy things and confronted her. She threw her sketchiness in her face by reminding her of all she’d done. The woman retaliated with how much of a monster she was. The woman in cuffs said, she knew what she was, but then asked very simply to the other woman, “Do you”?

The look on her face said it all. Next scene, we find the woman who’d done the sketchy things sobbing in her car. Whatever happens next is anyone’s guess, that was pretty much the last scene of that show. But, it would seem the moral high ground she stood on was obliterated when her own sins were thrown in her face. In that moment, maybe she realized she could’ve just as easily been the one being led out in handcuffs.

Compassion isn’t easy. It’s very often something I have to ask God for; to give me eyes to see something or someone through His lens of grace. And if I’m being honest, I don’t always want to see through His lens. My own moral high ground can be miles high.

Admittedly, I’ve done some sketchy and deplorable things. But, that doesn’t always make me more compassionate towards those who have done similar sketchy or deplorable things. I justify my lack of compassion by saying, a choice is a choice, and consequences will follow. Has God forgiven me, yes. Have I forgiven myself? Yes, no, maybe? Ask me later, I’m working on it.

In Matthew 18:21-25, Jesus told this parable of the unforgiving debtor:

“Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven! “Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt. “But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt. “But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment. “His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full. “When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt. “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.””

If the unforgiving debtor answered the king’s question what would have been his defense in retaliating the way he did by throwing his own servant into prison after being forgiven of his own debt?

My guess is that he was angry and embarrassed over the fact he had shown mercy to his servant prior to being put into the precarious position of having to beg for his and his family’s freedom. Why else did his servant owe him? While he didn’t forgive the debt, he allowed his servant to fall behind in payment. This caused a ripple effect on him to fall behind in his own payments. Am I right? Hard to say.

Anger and embarrassment make poor excuses as justification for bad behavior. The unforgiving debtor had his millions of debt totally forgiven. Why wasn’t he dancing in the streets and singing with joy? Maybe he was more tied to his debt than to his new found freedom. Maybe he wanted to ensure he would never be put into that type situation again? We’re not given his answer.

I believe it’s because whatever unforgiveness we harbor in our hearts is personal and complicated and why we need Jesus to be the mediator. He’s the only one who totally understands and freely forgives when we confess, and repent. His compassion has no bounds. He doesn’t hold back His grace. He loves to see His children walk freely in the gifts He so generously gives.

When I said compassion doesn’t always come easy, could it be I have yet to fully receive the total forgiveness of my Savior? Am I more tied to my sins than my redemption? Am I walking in freedom? I dare say, not yet. Is that reason to heap more judgement on myself or others? No. Is it an excuse to partner with animosity? No.

Instead, it’s an opportunity to invite God into my mess and allow Him to show me the way forward. Expecting any part of that journey to be perfect or free of sin is just heaping condemnation upon myself. Ick!! I’ll say that again, ick!!

Maybe now you can understand a bit better why the unforgiving debtor wasn’t dancing in the streets or singing for joy. Maybe just maybe, he didn’t know or fully grasp what being fully forgiving looks like. Maybe his own self condemnation was so strong the gift he was given was left partially wrapped with the answer he could never fully comprehend. Your debt is completely forgiven and has been paid in full.

The answer is simple, acceptance. It’s a daily exchange with God to accept and receive His love. I can so overcomplicate it. Maybe you do as well. Thankfully, it’s a process, a journey, and not a one and done. It’s easy to make the mistake of thinking God is through with you, when you’ve given up on yourself. But, that’s just now the way He operates.

So, if you find yourself in a place of unforgiveness know you’re not alone. It doesn’t mean we remain in this place, it means we persevere with faith and trust that God will work ALL things out. The good, the bad, and the unlovely. And if you think you’re better than someone else, my friend, it’s time to step off that moral high ground and remember we’re all human, we ALL fall short of the glory of God. Yet, He loves us anyways. And that’s something good we can all wrap our hearts around.

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