A Stunning Choice

safe_image

… to Forgive

The tragic case of the ‘wrong apartment’ killing in Dallas, wrapped up with the female police officer who shot and killed a young man in his own apartment convicted of murder. Amber Guyger came home after a 13 hour shift and says she went to the wrong floor and entered the wrong apartment thinking it was her own. She killed Botham Jean, who lived in that apartment, claiming she thought he was an intruder. She was convicted of murder and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Yesterday, videos went viral on the internet showing that young man’s brother telling Ms. Guyger to go to Jesus where she could find her guilt taken away. He asked the judge for permission to go and hug the woman who killed his brother! His father said he hoped to become her friend. Both expressed profound forgiveness.

Their choice comes from their devotion to Christ Jesus, from hearts willing to surrender hatred and bitterness,  replacing those corrosive feelings with Jesus’ love. It is such a counter-cultural choice the whole nation paused to consider it.  This brought to mind the choice to forgive made by grieving Amish families whose chose to forgive the Charlie Roberts who murdered 5 of their children in a school house shooting in 2006.  The choice of Christians who sincerely forgave the wrong offender stunned the nation then, too.

Forgiveness is a cornerstone of our Christian faith!  “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15, NLT)  We forgive because we are forgiven and we find forgiveness in forgiving!

The reason so many refuse to do it is because they do not really understand what it means to forgive. The common idea is that forgiveness somehow implies that ‘what you did no longer matters.’  How untrue. God forgives but He is also just. A person can seek justice, as the family in Dallas did, yet do so without malice or hatred. The most complete forgiveness, the kind we witnessed yesterday, comes from the conviction that God is the Ultimate Judge and that He will grant perfect justice. Genuine forgiveness that goes beyond just saying the right words is a release of our desire for vengeance, along with any sense that the one who wronged us owes us something, to God.  “Lord, you will give me justice, so I release this person to You.”

Genuine forgiveness is not easy, never simple, nor does it come to us naturally. We forgive because our obedience to Christ Jesus as Lord is greater than our natural desire for retribution.

Jesus teaches us to put our security in God’s hands. “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak (coat), do not stop him from taking your tunic.(shirt)  Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:27-31, NIV)

Are you hanging onto a wound, nursing a grudge, hoping the one who wronged you feels your anger?  If you’re God’s child, you are hurting yourself much more than you are hurting the offender. That anger, that hate, makes you a prisoner of the person who did you wrong, keeping you tied to a time and place of pain. Forgive! Give the person, the pain, the anger, the desire for revenge to the Lord, trusting His perfect justice. It is a radical choice, but there is great freedom to be found.  Pray for faith to make that hard decision. Then, obey the Spirit’s invitation to forgive.

Here is a word from the Word. “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do your part to live in peace with everyone, as much as possible. Dear friends, never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God. For it is written, “I will take vengeance; I will repay those who deserve it,” says the Lord. Instead, do what the Scriptures say: “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink, and they will be ashamed of what they have done to you.” Don’t let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good.” (Romans 12:17-21, NLT)

_________

Here As In Heaven

The atmosphere is changing now
For the Spirit of the Lord is here
The evidence is all around
That the Spirit of the Lord is here

Overflow in this place
Fill our hearts with your love
Your love surrounds us
You’re the reason we came to encounter your love
Your love surrounds us

 Spirit of God fall fresh on us
We need your presence
Your kingdom come your will be done
Here as in heaven

 A miracle can happen now
For the Spirit of the Lord is here
The evidence is all around
That the Spirit of the Lord is here

Chris Brown | Mack Brock | Matthew Ntlele | Steven Furtick | Wade Joye © 2015 Music by Elevation Worship Publishing (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC)

CCLI License # 810055

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s