Last week I wrote about how a friend that I really care about hurt me deeply. So much so that I actually wrote poetry. I know I’m really jacked up when I start doing that, lol. Seriously though. Then I wrote about God’s faithfulness during this rough season. The rest of this past week I’ve spent wrestling on how I am supposed to live out being tenderhearted, humble, and bless my friend (1 Peter 3:8-9).
I wasn’t really searching for an answer, or at least not consciously. I just prayed and asked God to help me see and give me wisdom. Then I went about the rest of my week. I picked up Tempted and Tried, a book I’d started re-reading a while back. I also started going through Death By Love again. Somehow, through a combination of these books and something Matt Chandler said during his message this weekend at The Village, the answer became clear.
Hebrews 4:15 ESV
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
You see, this text isn’t just talking about Jesus’s temptation in the desert after His baptism. It’s also talking about the temptation He must have felt when He was betrayed by Judas, one of the men closest to Him. True, Jesus wasn’t deceived for a minute. That’s what makes this so miraculous, and so glorious. He told Judas that he would betray Jesus (Matt. 26:25), but He didn’t try to stop him. When Judas came with guards, Jesus knew what would happen when He asked, “Whom do you seek?” Jesus went willingly toward the cross. He didn’t harden His heart and become bitter toward His betrayer. He showed grace and compassion the whole way to Golgotha. He pleaded for His murders’ forgiveness while suffocating and choking on His own blood, hanging from a tree as a curse in our place.
Jesus stepped out of the perfect place at His Father’s side in Heaven and stepped into this broken place we call Earth. He was betrayed, abandoned, broken, and alone. Yet He remained humble and tenderhearted in all of this. He took my place on the cross for all the sins I have committed, and He took my friend’s place, too. And He rose again as a sign of the Father’s approval of His sacrifice. Jesus was vindicated in the eyes of all His enemies.
This. This is how and why I can be free to be forgiving and tenderhearted. The crucified and risen Christ is how and why I can move forward without hardening my heart against my friend. In Christ, I have already been publicly humiliated on a cross. What else can my friend do that could be worse than this? In Christ, I have already died. What further harm can come to me? In Christ, I have been raised to a new life, not bound to the terms and conditions of this world. That is how I am free to keep giving grace and keep showing love.
True, there is a fine line between giving grace and enablement. It will take much wisdom to know the difference, but it starts by praying for her redemption and repentance. Even if I may err on the side of enablement, that doesn’t mean I don’t try to show grace.
Because He came to this broken place to live and die for broken people. The point of the gospel is that Christ died for a bunch of unworthy and ungrateful people, and He did so knowingly. But when the gospel floods the hearts of those unworthy and ungrateful people, those people die and new people are born. Kingdom people are born. Kingdom people called to lay down their lives to reach the ungrateful and unworthy, just like their King did.