A news item one night was about parents who lost a child through another teen's weakness and grave error in judgment. The parents, being interviewed a couple of days after their daughter's death, made a public statement that they not only forgave the drunken young driver who had killed their daughter, but also prayed for him and said that they wished recovery and well-being for him. Is this truly possible? When a parent loses a child, they have sorrow that goes to the very core of their being. For it to have happened because a teen had been drinking and driving too fast would appear to make the sorrow horrendous, and to forgive — insurmountable. To one and all, it seems a waste of a young life. Yet, the statement from those parents being interviewed remains.
How can we forgive? When we have been injured, we should have retribution, shouldn't we? Our human nature limits us to this view. In this day and age, it seems to be even more prevalent. So how could we reach a state of mind where we would be willing to forgive? In our own capacity and under worldly influences, could we be capable of this? The Bible tells us:
Ephesians 4:32 – Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has forgiven you. (NASB)
Colossians 3:13 – Bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. (NASB)
In the parable of the tenant farmer recorded in Matthew 21:33-40, Jesus asked His listeners what the owner of the vineyard would do to those who killed his son. The "son" clearly refers to Jesus, the Son of God. He came to earth to expiate for us, once and for all, sins like idolatry, indifference, inhumanity, injustice, and other sacrileges committed against the divine Redeemer. The Creator of the vineyard of this earth could have called for retribution on humanity when the people of the earth killed His Son. Instead, He gave us another chance, and loved us so much that He offered His only Son to redeem us. Jesus died so that we could share in the heavenly inheritance. In the Father's forgiveness to us, we are made brothers and sisters of Jesus. With our human nature, we can attain to a forgiving heart only through a relationship with the Son of God.
In his book entitled An essay on criticism, Alexander Pope, a poet in 1711, coined the phrase, "To err is humane; to forgive is divine". His saying was based on biblical references to forgiveness, such as:
Matthew 18:21-22 – Then Peter came and said to Him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven." (NASB)
The disciples were also taught the Lord's Prayer, which we say to this day: "Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us." (Luke 11:4 NIV)
One would wonder at the magnitude of inner strength provided by God that would make those parents capable of such a tremendous act of forgiveness, despite such a tragedy. Divine influence is the only answer. For some people to have been given such strength that they could do this reflects the magnificent mercy of God. It is especially surprising in today's world. This kind of faith is so very inspiring and such a challenge to us to forgive as God has forgiven us.
Prayer: Jesus, through Your fortitude and Your compassion for Your earthly family, You showed us the true way to reflect Your heavenly nature. May we rejoice in forgiving those who have sinned against us. Amen.
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