Posted by: nmontague | July 2, 2010

On Forgiveness and Friendship

I’ve had a hymn in my head that last few days. Particularly, one verse of A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief. It goes as follows:

In pris’n I saw him next, condemned
To meet a traitor’s doom at morn.
The tide of lying tongues I stemmed,
And honored him ’mid shame and scorn.
My friendship’s utmost zeal to try,
He asked if I for him would die.
The flesh was weak; my blood ran chill,
But my free spirit cried, “I will!”

This verse playing in my head over and over. (Which, by the way, is much nicer than some of the other songs that get stuck in my head). So I’ve been pondering this verse quite a bit.  

First, I’ve it has made me ponder work a bit. If you don’t know, I’m a criminal defense attorney for the local Public Defenders office. So I am literally meeting criminals and others who are falsely accused of crimes. I’m often  asked about how I feel about defending the “bad guys.”

Before law school, I don’t think I could have pictured myself as a criminal defense attorney. I took a class on religion and law my second year of law school that made me think about alot of things. I looked at it from more of a Christian perspective. What would Christ do? And I know He would defend them to. He died to rescue and Redeem people who fell short of the Eternal laws of heaven. In fact, there is imagery in the scriptures of Christ as our “Advocate with the Father”. Christ is our defense attorney for life.

When I realized that, I realized it was completely consistant with my faith to be a defense attorney. I still wasnt planning to be one when I graduated. I just needed a job. But the song had me thinking about this and thinking how much people devalue people in the criminal system. I can totally understand why. Some want to protect themselves. Some are afraid of them, (and with good reason). But something I’ve really learned in my work experience is that they are human too. Some people really do get screwed by the system. And strangely enough there aren’t a lot of people willing to forgive others for their past even though their crimes may have been toward someone else.

Second, the verse has me thinking about friendship. Are there people I would die for? I would like to say yes, but I really don’t know if I have the will to act in such a way. There is more to friendship than dying for someone. Sometimes it’s just being there for them when they need you that is the tough part. Sometimes we get into fights with friends and just don’t talk to them for a long time. We let things get between us.

No man is an island. We can be selfsufficient, but we weren’t designed to be alone. Friendship is a fundamental principle to a happy life. We aren’t designed to carry all our burdens alone. And by that we need to be strong and faithful friends to help others bear their burdens and so our burdens are lighter. When my life is over, I hope that I will be remembered as a good friend to those around me. If we embraced the principle of friendship to it’s fullest, our lives will be full of joy.

Now, my thoughts may not seem to be related, but I think they are. Because in order to be good friends we need to forgive. We need to stop letting people suffer alone and lift them up. If we don’t reach out to others, why should we expect anyone to reach out to us? We need to be proactive in life. Forgiveness and Friendship are principles that are intertwined.

Challenges for today:

1) Think about the people who you consider your friends. Reach out to one who you haven’t talked to as much lately

2) Do you and a friend have a grudge and disagreement you can’t get past that is keeping you apart? Be the person to try and restore the relationship.

3) Even if your friends do something horrible, still reach out to them and try to lift them up.

It takes patience. It’s difficult at times. But everyone needs a friend. Even those society rejects as criminals and dross. I want to end this with the last verse of that Hymn that is also on my mind:

Then in a moment to my view
The stranger started from disguise.
The tokens in His hands I knew;
The Savior stood before mine eyes.
He spake, and my poor name He named,
“Of Me thou hast not been ashamed.
These deeds shall thy memorial be;
Fear not, thou didst them unto Me


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