[Editor: While we spiritedly debate today’s issues and criticize the failings of our leaders and our culture — this commentary below offers us a very helpful and important reminder of a basic truth. Read and let it examine your heart.]
It’s impossible to understand: When God forgives, He forgets. How does He do so, being the one most offended? He forgives, and forgets, forever.
Not so with some people. Some people never forget because they never forgive. Others take it a step further. They never let wounds heal, an intentional act. They keep picking at the scab. Who can explain it?
Perhaps it’s something about our fallenness that encourages us to intrigue. It starts with a wink or a knowing look, an idle remark or a cutting accusation, and ends with a body on the floor outlined in chalk.
The Accuser delights in intrigue. The more it swirls, the greater his harvest. Accusations are cruel enough: the more outlandish, the harder they hit, and the audience grows. No one passes a bloody crash without looking.
We forget the Proverb that advises we cover a matter, the warnings about gossip and unrighteous anger. Our tongues become murder weapons. Accusations repeated are amplified, often to the point where they bear no resemblance to original events. All the while the Accuser gathers and expands operations.
Victims pile up like firewood. The virtues — humility, forgiveness, a willingness to communicate, the hard work of understanding, love — all join the pile of victims.
The aggressors ask no questions, reassuring themselves they know all that’s required to render final, irrevocable judgment. They never let anyone forget. Instead, they recruit more pointing fingers, and the destruction spreads.
The height of offense comes when it’s all spiritualized, rationalized, and justified — a picture of the Pharisee in the temple looking down his nose at those poor sinners, Joseph’s brothers who sold him into slavery, the older brother of the Prodigal whose resentments killed the joy that might have been his pleasure, and King Saul, the one who started so well, but in the end, became a suicide and a reproach.
The consequences are devastating. People who claim the Holy Spirit resides within them are found deaf to his whispers, immune to this counsel, resistant to his promptings. By choice they remain the Accuser’s accomplices, and the terrible consequences unfold in a continuum of lies as the aggressors seek cover. Their testimony is ruined, the lost remain so, and young believers are discouraged. Worse, some turn away altogether.
But the most terrible of all these consequences: the very Lord who died to save us is dishonored, ignored and crucified all over again.
As always He provides an escape, and healing. Repentance and forgiveness are the only medicines proven effective against this disease. It takes courage to face the music, and take our medicine, like big people. Small people prefer the rut that only leads to ruin. And like a hundred times at all those crossroads of decision before, we are faced with a choice: the low road of the Accuser, or the road laid out by the Most High. It’s no accident they call it the rugged road of the Cross, the narrow way found by few.
Image: Gilchrist’s Life, 1880; “The Accusers”; William James Linton after William Blake; public domain; copyright expired.