“To err is human; to forgive, divine”“Forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing”, was voiced by the Messiah (Luke 23:34) and re-echoed by Stephen (Acts 7:60) as to exemplify his master’s (lord’s) words. Seeing our fellow man in the proper light is essential to having the forgiving spirit that we survey in these testimonies. While things were being said and done unjustly (from the biblical narration’s standpoint), the realization was that those who were speaking and acting were slaves, tools in the hands of a far greater power at work. Paul later stated in similar fashion that it is not against mortal man (flesh and blood) with whom we wrestle, but against the powers of darkness (Eph. 6:12).
Our enemies are not those who speak ill of us, or anything related. Most (generally in religious circles) genuinely believe they have good cause to do what they do and say what they say. Their motives are mostly based on convictions held very dear, and makes them willing to take action to protect at all costs. It is an easy process of self-examination when we view our actions and words towards others: do we follow the pattern of Saul of Tarsus, zealous in trying to bring the world to our way of thinking and belief, or after the messianic exhibition, forgiving those who don’t see the message God has laid on our heart? Is there any biblical example or precedence in which God’s messengers are not to forgive and love, but rather oppress and persecute? The crusades and inquisition were laced with such attitudes.
There is coming a day when the Messiah will return and judge. The prophets foretold of this day as well as delivered harsh proclamations for those who would not follow the word of the Lord. Those who are voiced before “his army” (Joel 2:11) will participate in judgment (1 Cor. 6:1-3), but at this moment we are not commanded to follow the pattern of his second coming, we are to be aligning ourselves with the example of his first coming.