Have you ever wondered why Jesus chose Judas Isacriot to be His disciple? Why add forgiveness on to everything else Jesus had to do? There is no question that Jesus knew—when He chose Judas—that Judas would betray Him. So why? Why would He choose to have His death arranged through the treachery of a close friend? I mean He could have chosen to die in a number of ways that didn’t employ one of His inner circle—so why?
Why make the path of redemption more painful than it needed to be?
As I was pondering this question, I didn’t fathom the magnitude of the lesson God was about to teach me about forgiveness and love. You see, by asking this question about Judas, I was unknowingly asking it about myself. Sin is no joke to Jesus. It cost Him more dearly than we can ever fathom. This lesson is actually an answered prayer and is radically changing my view on forgiveness. You see, I’d recently been asking God, “teach me how to love more like You do.” But in my mind it would be a warm and fuzzy lesson about doing more nice things for people. It’s nothing like that at all. God is teaching me that it’s impossible for me to understand how to love like HE does unless I also understand the personal COST of His love for me. This necessarily involves gaining an understanding of His vast forgiveness.
This is a hard lesson for me, but I promise you one thing…I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
If we’re honest, we’ll admit that it’s never easy to learn to think, speak, and act differently than the way we have for our entire life. But I’m grateful that God hasn’t given up on me. So if He needs to use a jackhammer to break up the hardened foundation of my flawed thinking in order to lay the bedrock of His solid truth in order to transform my ways—so be it. I believe that my self-deception runs deep about the personal cost of my sin to God and it has greatly hindered my ability to experience the rushing and constant flow of His love. I must develop an understanding of the degree of His vast forgiveness towards me before I can truly forgive (and love) others. It’s not only critical for good mental health (unforgiveness is toxic), but it is absolutely necessary for good spiritual health.
Now, what’s that big lesson I’m learning about forgiveness? Well, as I find myself struggling to forgive, God is showing me…
…the best way to understand the depth, height, length, and breadth of GOD’s forgiveness towards me—is to be forced to practice giving the same kind of forgiveness to those who have hurt me.
But forgiveness seems impossible at times, doesn’t it? The poison of offense seems to seep into the bones of our soul. This brings me to the remarkable part of this lesson God is teaching me. I’ve been viewing forgiveness all the wrong way. For example, how many times have you thought—like I have—that it is “just too hard” to forgive someone? Well, that should be no surprise because—without God—it most certainly is! But thinking this way makes forgiveness more difficult than it should be because we are focused on how much WE must forgive INSTEAD of how much we’ve BEEN forgiven! So our glass always seems empty. But when we ask God to reveal His vast forgiveness towards us then—we have plenty to give away. It’s not difficult to be generous when you have more than enough. We only become stingy about anything (including forgiveness) when—we think we’re going to run out.
As a born again child of God, we MUST remember the immeasurable generosity of His forgiveness towards us!
Failing to recognize the magnitude of God’s forgiveness towards us traps us into unhealthy thought patterns. We—hold grudges, hold onto hurt feelings, develop a “victim mentality,” or—whatever toxic mentality unforgiveness develops in our life. We develop a bad habit of thinking we can’t risk being generous with forgiveness because—we have not recognized (or perhaps we’ve forgotten) how much forgiveness God has piled into our storehouse. Unforgiveness is a breeding ground for bitterness and is exactly the destructive route our enemies want us to take. My friend, if God needs to jackhammer out those deadly landmines and booby traps—let Him do it. You won’t regret allowing Him to set you free!
So what does this all have to do with why Jesus chose Judas?
Well, when we think about Judas, we remember him by only one thing—his great betrayal of our Savior. His name is associated with shame. I mean, everyone knows what it means to be “a Judas” right? Judas lived with Jesus for three years and saw—thousands fed with a few loaves of bread, the blind given sight, and the dead raised! He saw the great love of Jesus for himself and others. How could he turn around and sell Jesus out to His enemies??? Why would Jesus choose a “friend” to betray Him to the enemy? Well, while I suspect all of God’s reasons are beyond my full comprehension; one thought comes to mind and—it’s very humbling.
All sin—including yours and mine—is a betrayal of God’s love.
You and I have received plenty of forgiveness from God and thus, we have plenty to give away. Through the gift of salvation, Jesus offered us a loving friendship like none other. But even WHILE He was drawing us by His goodness—He knew the pitiful and wretched kind of friends we would be to Him. This certainly is my story! As His child, as a member of His bride, as one of His beloved redeemed—I have repeatedly chosen sin over love. Whether it’s been sins of commission or sins of omission; whether making up my own rules, or overtly breaking His rules—my sin is always a betrayal of His love. It’s saying to God “Your enemies have offered me a good enough price to betray your love so I choose to align myself with them.” No matter how “small” our sin, it’s always a crime against the love of God. So, every time I choose worry and fear over trusting God; every time I choose selfishness over love; every time I choose laziness over diligence; every time I choose to NOT—faithfully pray, submit to God, study His Word, repent, forgive…it is a betrayal. Yet, God, knowing ALL of my future betrayals…still chooses to forgive me. Wow!
So perhaps Jesus chose Judas…to encourage us…by giving us an acute understanding of His vast forgiveness towards each of us so we could learn how to love more like He does.
Jesus was born to die for Judas. He was born to die for you and I. God’s forgiveness to all sinners is vast. And His forgiveness to His born again children is also immeasurable. He knows we struggle with forgiving and loving each other. But, my friend, God didn’t command us to forgive each other in order to overwhelm us with an impossible task. No. We forgive—NOT because we are able—but because He enables us! His redemption empowers us to forgive and love as He does.
“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.” Colossians 3:12-14
“Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”Ephesians 4:31-32
Christ gave us a pivotal example about the generosity of His forgiveness in His parable about the two debtors in Matthew 18:21-25.
When we practice quantifying God’s forgiveness towards us as—a fortune worth trillions—we have absolutely no reason to NOT give five dollars’ worth of forgiveness to anyone else. We’re so wealthy that we can give away five dollars all day long. That’s about how the offenses of others against us—stack up to our offenses against Christ. If you have been redeemed, you have plenty of forgiveness to give away. So do I.
God’s forgiveness to us enables us to forgive as generously as He does.
We would love to hear your thoughts about this devotional. Did God speak to you or challenge your daily walk with him? Or is there a topic that you would like Kimberly to cover or expound on? Please share with us in the comments below.
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