Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13)
Hubert Humphrey was a former Vice President of the United States. He died on Friday, January 13, 1978. Two days later on Sunday afternoon, President Jimmy Carter, former President Gerald Ford, Vice President Walter Mondale and many of the nation’s political leaders were to be attending a funeral ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda.
Before he died from cancer, Humphrey personally invited disgraced President Richard Nixon to attend his funeral. It was one of Nixon’s first public appearances since he had resigned. When Nixon entered the room, no one came near him, no public officials or dignitaries. He felt ostracized and stood in a corner alone.
When the current President Jimmy Carter entered the room, he was about to take his seat when he noticed Nixon. President Carter made a point to walk over to him, reach out, smile, shake his hand and embrace him. Carter greeted Nixon with grace and compassion, though he had done nothing to deserve it. This marked a turning point in Nixon’s long ordeal.
Who are you in this situation? Many of us might picture ourselves as Carter reaching out to Nixon, as a Christian reaching out to the disgraced unbeliever.
I believe we are all Nixon. It’s not Jimmy Carter who is reaching out to us, but Jesus. We were disgraced and out of God’s grace. We did nothing to deserve his grace or his compassion. Jesus reached out to us with his love, grace and compassion. It was this act of grace on God’s part, culminating in His Son’s cross, which motivates us to do it for others.