Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, As it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom,
The power, and the glory,
For ever and ever.
Without forgiveness, we would all be hopeless.
God’s forgiveness through our LORD Jesus Christ is complete – it is perfect. Because of Jesus Christ, God forgives can forgive all mankind of all sins – it is a free gift offered to those who willingly receive Christ as their Savior.
The scope of God’s gracious forgiveness is amazing. It is something worth taking time to think on and to meditate on God's grace and mercy. Recognizing this changed my life a few years back. God in his grace fully forgave me unconditionally. God’s forgiveness is based upon Christ’s sacrifice alone and upon God’s own character – He keeps his promises.
How then shall I live now? I believe that I should recognize God’s hand in everything in my life – to be thankful for everything – ‘in all things – give thanks’. I should govern myself to do the right thing – to the best of my ability. One of those things is to be forgiving. If God in His grace and mercy forgave me, how could I not be forgiving of others.
This was recently tested and brought to my mind and heart.
On January 20, 2009 my younger brother Tim was murdered by his close friend and roommate. The news was a devastating blow to my heart. I knew of Tim’s friend, knew of their close friendship for many years. Tim had even brought his friend to my sister’s home that previous Thanksgiving. It was and is still inconceivable to me that someone such as that would – could commit such a heinous, brutal crime. Not only did he murder my brother but he also cruelly murdered on the next day another friend of theirs. Anger and hatred toward someone I’d never met were two emotions I fought constantly. My siblings and I had to plan our brother’s funeral, we had to endure the slow legal process of learning of the events leading to his death and had to endure the legal process of being in his murderer’s presence on two occasions in court. The anguish caused to myself and to my siblings was very deep. Fortunately, for us all this man pled guilty and we were spared the ordeal of a trial with the evidence that would bring to our hearts and minds afresh the pain of the knowledge of the act of murder against our brother.
A few weeks after the court hearing sentencing our brother’s murderer I read Ezekiel 3:18,19
“When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Yet if you warn the wicked, and he turns not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.”
And I knew. I had to forgive this man and I had to share with him what I knew, that God for Christ’s sake is willing to forgive anyone. I had recognized my sin and had asked for forgiveness and received it – how could I keep that to myself – even from one such as this man. In the end, all sin no matter how great or how small in our eyes separates us from God – we all needed forgiveness.
“Who is a God like unto Thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He retaineth not his anger for ever, because He delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, He will have compassion upon us; He will subdue our iniquities; and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:18-19).
So, I wrote this man a letter expressing my forgiveness and explaining that God has offered him the opportunity to be forgiven. I plan to send to him this letter and a Bible.
It took me a while to approach my siblings about my plans – I knew their deep hurt and wasn’t sure whether they’d understand. I didn’t want to hurt them further. But, praise the LORD they did – and have given me their blessing.
It is liberating to release one from such a burden – I miss my brother deeply, but know based upon his own testimony that many years back he too accepted Christ as his Savior, so I know - trusting God’s word – I will see Tim again someday.
If God forgave us for Christ’s sake, how could we do any less.