Friday March 10, 2006
Responding to Others’ Failure
The apostle Paul was always sacrificing himself for others. He faced hunger, shipwreck, beatings, and imprisonment to carry God’s Word to needy people. Consequently, he had every reason to expect the men and women he mentored to be faithful when he experienced a crisis. But Paul endured his Roman prison and trial before a government tribunal virtually alone — only Luke continued to lend support.
Paul’s friends probably had reason to stay away, namely, fear that the tribunal would investigate them next, or confidence that the apostle’s faith would sustain him better than their inadequate aid. Regardless of the reason, Paul had only these words for his deserters: “May it not be counted against them” (v. 16). He forgave those who had abandoned him.
Paul’s words and attitude will sound familiar to believers who know Stephen’s story. For preaching the Word and speaking against the religious leaders, Stephen was stoned. Paul, at the time a young Pharisee known as Saul, looked on approvingly. When he later repented following his
While resentment and anger seem justified when others fail us, we don’t have the right to withhold forgiveness. Regardless of the pain someone inflicted or the loneliness his or her absence caused, God’s expectation doesn’t change. Believers forgive because Jesus Christ forgave us fully, knowing how often we would fail, hurt, and ignore Him.
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