I’m sick of people treating me like this! What did I ever do to them? Some people…it’s like they are looking to see when I am going to be at my most vulnerable point and then they pounce like a lion in the African wild. And then, like that same lion, it’s like no one even cares. They just get away with it. Like all of the other wildebeests just go on with their life so does everyone around me just go on letting them get away with it. It’s not right! It’s not fair! And I’m sick of it!
The Roman empire had been taxing Jerusalem stealing its wealth and keeping it under control. The Jews were sick of it. Many, in a passive aggressive way to rebel would steal from the Romans in Jerusalem. Many theologians think this was the case of the two criminals hanging on either side of the cross of Christ. We have no evidence anywhere that Christ had ever met these two men. Certainly he had never done anything to them, but one criminal is ticked off with him. He starts screaming at him, “If you are really the Christ, save yourself and us!” Insult after insult directed at Jesus, but why?
The statement was clear that this man did not feel that what he was enduring was fair. And the only way that Christ could prove that He was truly the Messiah would be to ease this man’s discomfort. Well…I must confess that I have been this thief before. I have been angry and offended with God for allowing something to happen to me that just was not fair. After all, He is the Messiah and He could have stopped it before it ever happened. If He really is God, then He knew how bad this was going to hurt and he let it happen anyway. And what’s more, the people who have hurt me are the very people that I was trying to love. I did not deserve what I got. It was unjust and unfair. Have you ever felt like the cross you are having to bear is unfair?
Its when we believe that things are unfair that we get offended. Offense is an ugly trap. The word ‘offense’ actually comes from the same root word where we get ‘trap-stick.’ A trap-stick is the little stick that we put peanut butter on in order to lure the mouse into the trap. Offense is a trap. It seems as if we would get some kind of satisfaction, fulfillment, resolution, closure, or something if we act out in our offense with harsh and heavy words, but in the end, it is a trap. We are trapped within our own offense. We are the center of our own little world. All we can think about is how we have been treated and how we are hurt and how we have never done anything to deserve this. But life is not about you. It’s about the Lord. It’s not about our pain, it’s about His healing. It’s not about our weakness, but His strength; not our confusion, but His wisdom. When we make Him the center of our focus again, we break out of the trap of offense and live in the freedom of hope.
The other criminal was angry at the first criminal who hurled insults at Christ. Isn’t that interesting? What does he care anyway? He defends Christ. He tells the first criminal that they deserve what they are getting and Christ has done nothing wrong. “Don’t you fear God?” he says. Fear. Reverence. He is asking the other criminal if He truly believes that God is God. After all, if God is really who we believe He is, then isn’t every decision He makes right, and just, and fair?
The reasons for our hardships in life are the result of sin and purposed by God for our discipline, to purify our souls. Now, let’s be honest with one another here. Have you ever sinned? If so, then you deserve death according to Romans. The wages of sin is death. So no matter what hardship you are going through, it is still less than what you deserve, right? And if the hardships we are going through are for our discipline, then if we ever have an impure thought – jealousy, selfishness, hatred, lust – then we need to be disciplined and purified, that we might enjoy God’s greatest plan for our life. So, even then, whatever hardships we are going through are allowed by God and they are for our own good. God is God. If He has decided to let us go through whatever it is we are going through, then He is right and just and fair. Our spirit needs to be pressed in order to push us into a higher level of love, of faith, of love, of forgiveness. So then, we really can’t ever complain about anything anymore. (Man, I hated writing that sentence 🙂 Everything the Lord allows is fair, just, and right.
Jesus ignored the first criminal. What does light have to do with darkness? But to the criminal with righteous anger, He said, “Today, you will be with me in paradise.” I love it that we have a God who says ‘today.’ Today, things can be different. Today, your perspective can change. You no longer have to be angry with those who hurt you so badly because it was the Lord who allowed it, and it was for our own good to force us into new spiritual realms of love, faith, and discipline, to force us to depend upon Him more than ever in our life. No matter who did it, God allowed it, and if we can change our perspective, we can release our anger. We can forgive those who have hurt us. We can be thankful considering our suffering pure joy as James teaches. And today…today….right now, everything can be different. We can break out of the trap of offense and live overwhelmed in the hope of God’s healing touch.
Pastor Lee is the author of “Prepare for Greater Things: Understanding God’s Plan for Your Life.” Prepare for Greater Things is a reprint of Pastor Lee’s first book entitled “The Journey.” It is soon to be released. To schedule a speaking engagement for any size church or ministry gathering, please go to our Contact Page.
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