"This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."
~ Matthew 18:35 (NIV)
In Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, a street-witnessing team became involved in an extraordinary situation. A young Mexican called Samuel would walk for two hours each day to join them and act as an interpreter. They discovered that Samuel's mother and sister had been murdered and that he witnessed the killings but, despite trying to intervene, was unable to stop them. He said he knew the man who did it.
He had a desire to go and avenge the killings, but then became a Christian and his whole attitude changed. He began a Bible study group now attended by twenty people. On the final night of the meetings, he saw the man he believed had murdered his mother and sister go forward to receive Jesus Christ as his Savior. Samuel made his way through the throng of people and shook his hand and welcomed him “into the Kingdom.” Samuel was able to forgive him.
In Jesus’ teaching, there is little doubt that, as a Christian, I MUST forgive those who have wronged me. Then our human, time-bound minds cry out with the loud fleshly inquiry—“WHY?”
Again Philip Yancey points out that through the process of forgiveness we realize we are not as different from the wrongdoer as we would like to think. And we end up linked on the same side.
In essence, God linked Himself with us humans in the incarnation. Somehow God had to come to terms with these creatures He desperately wanted to love. On earth, living among us, he learned what it was like to be human—yet without sin. But He put Himself on our side. God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us.
Forgiveness is a key component of the victorious, overcomer. This is the way of the cross to becoming “more than conquerors.”
As a young Christian in Cambodia, Cham witnessed a Khmer Rouge soldier—a youth he knew from school—bludgeon his mother to death by hitting her repeatedly over the head with a wooden board.
Cham suffered from severe depression over memories of that incident for many months. But eventually the Lord helped him gain victory over it.
Ten years later, Cham was walking down the main street of Phnom Penh and saw that young man who had killed his mother. The young man was very fearful of revenge when he recognized Cham approaching him. With moist eyes Cham looked at him and said, “In the name of Jesus, I forgive you!” Cham was free.
RESPONSE: I accept today that forgiveness is a must for me as a follower of Jesus.
PRAYER: Thank you, Lord, for so many rich examples of the freeing beauty of forgiveness.