Grace isn’t the natural way to behave; it’s the supernatural way. The world should be able to expect Christians to do something beyond the natural thing. To be able to take all the wrong and evil and persecution the world can dish out, and to meet it with a double dose of love and compassion—this is the visible evidence of God. It’s the most powerful witness you can possibly offer. It’s a living picture worth a thousand words.
Rubin “Hurricane” Carter was a boxer who went from the headlines to Hollywood. He was wrongly convicted of three murders. He spent two decades in prison, paying the price for someone else’s crime, before he finally won his freedom. A book and a movie told the story of his troubles.
How would you feel if it happened to you? Sitting in that cell alone for twenty years, what thoughts and emotions would be likely to circulate through your mind? I’ll let Rubin offer you these thoughts about his nightmarish experience:
The question invariably arises, it has before and it will again: “Rubin, are you bitter?” And in answer to that I will say, “After all that’s been said and done—the fact that the most productive years of my life, between the ages of twenty-nine and fifty, have been stolen; the fact that I was deprived of seeing my children grow up—wouldn’t you think I would have a right to be bitter? Wouldn’t anyone under those circumstances have a right to be bitter? In fact, it would be very easy to be bitter. But that has never been my nature, or my lot, to do things the easy way. If I have learned nothing else in my life, I’ve learned that bitterness only consumes the vessel that contains it. And for me to permit bitterness to control or to infect my life in any way whatsoever would be to allow those who imprisoned me to take even more than the 22 years they’ve already taken. Now that would make me an accomplice to their crime.”
Rubin Carter might have whirled up a hurricane of emotions inside himself—most people would have done so. But he knew that one crime was enough. Why perpetuate it? Somewhere all evil, all wrongdoing, must be punctuated. Someone must put down a period instead of a comma—otherwise life is one long sentence without parole. Rubin Carter felt his sentence was long enough. So he walked away a free man—free not only of the bars of steel, but also of the ones we impose on ourselves.
Anger can be punctuated. We do so when we reverse it and release it to God. One day, many years ago, a man was beaten and tortured. He was spat upon and robbed. He endured every insult imaginable, then He was nailed to a cross. Hanging there in darkness and mockery, blood flowing from nearly every part of His body, He might have yelled out curses to all His killers. As a matter of fact, He might have done much more than that. Awesome power was in His grasp.
But Jesus reversed the evil. He took it all within His aching body and offered a prayer of forgiveness. “They know not what they do,” He said. And isn’t that almost always true when we’ve been wronged? People know not what they do.
When Jesus chose that reaction, the greatest of all miracles occurred. Sin wasn’t ignored; it was healed. Death itself was destroyed. A long chain of evil dating all the way from creation was broken. And even more—a new pattern was established. You and I are to live out that pattern. Good for evil. Blessings for curses. Compassion for aggression. The day we do this, the miracles begin. The day we do this, we’re liberated from a self-imposed prison and granted the freedom to live in peace and joy
David Jeremiah, Slaying the Giants in Your Life (Nashville, TN: W Pub., 2001), 116–118.
This article excerpted from Slaying the Giants in Your Life.
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