Stephen was innocent, yet he was stoned to death, Peter was innocent, yet he was crucified. James lead the church and was beheaded.. Paul was obedient to God and was imprisoned several times, beaten several times, and then eventually beheaded.. John preached the love of Jesus, also did nothing wrong and was banished to the island of Patmos unil he died..
Stephen, James, Paul, Peter, and John were all innocent.. But the suffered greatly.. They suffered unfairly.. They did absolutely nothing to deserve the way they were treated.. They didn't fight back, they didn't defend themselves, they didn't get angry.. All of them were grateful for their suffering.. Two of them even prayed for God to forgive their persecutors before they were killed..
Jesus was innocent. But He was beaten, humiliated, and then murdered.. He did not fight back, He did not defend Himself, He didn't run away, or even try to ward off the blows that struck Him again and again.. He did not pull away from the whip that stripped the flesh from His bones.. He did not shout curses at anyone or try to get the people around Him to take His side.. Even when nailed to the cross and suffering from what had to be unbearable pain, even then He put others before Himself.. He ministered to the man crucified next to Him, and then asked His Father to forgive those who hurt Him..
Jesus said "But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also" Matthew 5:39
But we don't really do that (I said 'we' that includes me too..) No, we hold grudges, we fight back, we defend ourselves, and we try to get others on our side too.. It's a natural response when we feel that we have been treated unfairly..
Honestly, if someone walked up to you and slapped you right across the face, would you really turn your face so they could hit you again? Or would you knock a couple of their teeth out instead? If someone verbally attacked you would you stand there patiently while they yelled and then calmly walk away, praying for them as you went? Would you let it go?
I would like to say that I would.. I would like to say that I would react like Jesus did, but I don't know if I truly would or not.. Sure, maybe I could refrain from hitting someone and maybe I could stand there and let them yell at me (it would be really hard!) but I don't know how I would behave after I walked away..
Would I walk away praying for that person? I doubt it, unless it was to pray that God would show them what jerks they were.. Would I forgive right away? No, probably not.. I would grumble, I would complain, I would stay angry for a while, and because I know me, I know I would probably find someone who could feed my anger for a while too by telling me how unfair that person was and what a jerk they were too..
Aw heck, who am I kidding? I know I would do those things.. There is no 'probably' about it.. In fact I have done those things.. A little over a year ago.. And because I didn't behave the way Jesus would have, the way the Bible commands me to, I held on to it for over a year.. Yeah, I grumbled and let it fester for a whole stupid year..
It's only recently (like 10 minutes ago) that I realized how incredibly stupid and petty it all was.. The problem is, it doesn't seem petty and stupid in the middle of it.. But I think that is why the Bible tells us to guard our hearts.. So we don't fester for a whole year on something that doesn't even matter now.. And you know what? Whatever bothering you now will probably seem pretty stupid a year from now too..
But aside from all that, it's Biblical.. The Bible commands forgiveness.. It tells us not to hold a grudge, it tells us to turn the other cheek.. Right OR wrong.. It doesn't matter if you feel justified or not.. God deals with the just and the unjust.. That's His job, not ours..
Seriously, if Jesus could go through what He did, and the apostles could go through what they did, when none of them had done anything to deserve it, can't we do the same?
There is nothing in the Bible that says life is fair.. However it does say "God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way. " Matthew 5:11-12 (NLT)