The power of forgiveness

Years ago, some men were talking after a church fellowship lunch about the news headlines. One man read about some government employees who went to jail convicted of conspiracy to defraud after filing false expense records.

The man said something that struck me in a way I’ll never forget. He said, “I hope these men get the maximum sentences for their crimes.” He didn’t stop there. “I can never forgive anyone for defrauding the government,” he said.

Recently, a Dallas jury convicted a former officer of murder in the shooting of a man. According to published reports, she said she fired because she thought a stranger was inside her apartment. During the sentencing phase of the trial, the victim’s brother said he forgave the officer and would not hold his brother’s death against her. That young man was a Christian, indeed.

Jesus taught his disciples to forgive those who sin against them (Matthew 6:14-15). This means that we must forgive fully and freely, just as Jesus has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32). If we do not forgive others, God will not forgive us (Matthew 6:14-15).

Jesus raised the bar on forgiveness. It is probably too high for that man who couldn’t forgive anyone for defrauding the government. Christianity is about higher standards. It always has been. Living the Christian life is not easy. It requires sacrifice and even pain and suffering.

But if you can release vindictive feelings toward others, you will find a wealth of peace for your soul you’ve never known before. Imagine how blessed the apostle Paul felt when Jesus forgave him of killing Christians (1 Timothy 1:15).

Can anyone say they deserve forgiveness for sins? None can. God, in abundant mercy, forgives those who turn to him in obedient faith.

The most excellent example of forgiveness is seen in Jesus as he, dying, said, “Forgive them, father; for they know not what they do.”

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