Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

“It’s not about you!” Is a phrase that pops up occasionally?  The intent of the phrase is to remind the listener that all of life doesn’t revolve around their feelings, their comfort or their life in general. Much as we’d like to think otherwise, life will go on without us. The flowers will still bloom, the rain will still fall and the seasons will still go through their cyclical changes.

When it comes to our spiritual/emotional lives the phrase takes on a somewhat different meaning. In God’s eyes everything is about us. We are his special creations, the apple of His eye, and the motivation for everything he does.

God created the world for our pleasure as much as His. He sent His only Son for our eternal forgiveness and blessing, not because He had to. Not because He felt obligated due to our frailty as human beings. God did what He did for our benefit.

In the Apostle Paul’s’ letter to the church in Ephesus he encourages them to live lives centered on the feelings and emotions of other people. The church in Ephesus was known for ‘getting it right.’ John writes to them in the Book of Revelation and commends them for taking a stand against those who were rebellious towards the things of God. They knew right from wrong and weren’t afraid to tell people who’d stepped outside the circle of God’s will.

Where the people of God in Ephesus fell short was in the area of love. John exhorts them to return to the basics. To love, accept and forgive those who had wronged them. Neither Paul nor John gives the church in Ephesus any room for arguing their case. How they treated people had nothing to do with how they were being treated. It wasn’t about them. It was about Jesus.

The message is true for us as well. As followers of Jesus we are commanded to be compassionate and forgiving because that is exactly how Jesus treats us. Other people who speak ill of us, attack us verbally or physically and hurt us (intentionally or otherwise) are in God’s eyes no better or worse than we area.

We are not forgiven because of anything we have done or because of our ability to live like Christ. We are forgiven because when we are at our worst God’s loves us at His best. Forgiving others doesn’t mean we allow them to continue to hurt and abuse us. It does mean we put ourselves in a safe place and don’t retaliate. Being compassionate doesn’t necessarily mean we allow ourselves to be used and taken advantage of. It does mean we do what we can, in a safe way, to bring those in need to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ through prayer, refusal to speak ill of them and whatever other ways we can to remain safe and extend the hand of Christ’s love and forgiveness.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, when I think of how I’ve been hurt and taken advantage of by others it’s really hard to treat my attackers with love, compassion and forgiveness. Yet in my heart I know you have forgiven me for much more. I confess to you the hatred I have for certain people, abusers, in my life. I ask that you would heal my wounds and empower me by your Spirit to forgive them. Help me to know that in your eyes it’s all about me and because of your love I can release my enemies into your hands. Amen.