(Quotient Quizes #17) Forgiving other people is one of the fundamental core values of the Christian faith. It is also one of the toughest. When Jesus gave the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13, the only part on which He commented was the subject of forgiveness. He said, “If you forgive others, God will forgive you. If you do not forgive others, God will not forgive you.” That’s tough truth! Here are four examples of forgiveness practiced in March and April 2017.
On Palm Sunday 2017, 44 Coptic Christians were murdered and 100 injured in terrorist bombings in Egypt. An Egyptian guard died protecting Coptic Orthodox leader Tawadros II. The widow of the guard said to her husband’s killers, “I forgive you, and I ask God to forgive you.”
Several family members who lost loved ones in the bombings were attending worship at the Coptic Orthodox Church of St. Mark in Jersey City, NJ. They began praying for forgiveness for the ones who had carried out the attacks. They said, “The sadness a lot of us feel is more for the terrorists and their perishing souls. We don’t ask for vengeance. We pray that the blinds are taken off their eyes that they can see again.” Wow. That’s forgiveness!
We saw it again on Easter Sunday 2017. Robert Goodwin, Sr., who had grown up in Alabama and moved to Detroit, was planning a trip back to Alabama to be with his mother on Mother’s Day. On Easter Sunday, he was killed in a senseless murder that the killer, Steve Stephens, recorded on Facebook. Robert was the father of ten and soon to become a grandfather. Stephens showed no remorse for the killing and said he was going out to kill others. The Goodwin family chose to offer forgiveness to Stephens. Robert’s daughter, Tonya, said, “The thing that I would take away most from my father is what he had taught us about God – how to fear God, how to love God, and how to forgive. And each one of us forgive the killer, the murderer.” Wow! That’s forgiveness! (see photo)
One of the most influential Supreme Court decisions in American history was in 1857 when Dred Scott v. Sanford ruled that a black man could not ever be a free man or become a U.S. citizen. It energized the abolition movement and contributed to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President.
In March 2017, Charles Taney III, the great-great-great nephew of Justice Roger B. Taney who authored the Dred Scott decision, met with Lyn Jackson, the great-great-great granddaughter of Dred Scott, in front of the Maryland State House and Justice Taney’s statue. It was 160 years later, but Charles Taney III made an apology and asked for forgiveness. There is no statute of limitations on forgiveness! (see photo)
In 1999, Kenneth Williams escaped from prison while serving a life sentence for murder. He then killed Michael Greenwood and another man. Williams was recaptured, imprisoned and executed in Arkansas April 27, 2017.
Michael Greenwood’s 22-year old daughter, Kayla, discovered that Kenneth had a daughter, Jasmine, in Washington State whom he hadn’t seen in 17 years, and he had never met his granddaughter. Kayla bought plane tickets for Kenneth’s daughter and granddaughter and flew them to Little Rock the day before Kenneth’s execution so he could visit with them. The young mothers met at the airport and embraced. Kayla’s words to Jasmine were, “We forgive him.” Wow, that’s forgiveness! (see photo)
Forgiveness doesn’t change the past, but it does change the future. (Tweet this) Someone has said, “Forgiveness is not a case of holy amnesia that wipes out the past. Instead, it is the experience of healing that drains the poison from the wound.”
Jesus not only taught forgiveness – He lived it. On the cross He looked at the people who had beaten Him and nailed Him to a cross and said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
Is there somebody you need to call, visit, or write and offer forgiveness? Forgiven people are forgiving people!
What’s your FQ – Forgiveness Quotient?