In 2006, a man entered a single-room Amish school house and violently murdered 5 young girls. One can hardly imagine the heartache felt by this Amish community after the tragedy. Yet, when news media outlets reported the story, the response of the community outshined the gruesome act itself. Without missing a beat, the community choose to forgive the murderer and even reached out to his family in sympathy instead of understandably demanding that he pay for his crime.
This week we continue our series in Jesus pattern for prayer by looking at the much-easier-said-than-done petition, “Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us (Luke 11:4).”
Jesus came to earth, took on flesh, and died on the cross to forgive our sins, not just little sins but also big sins, not just actions but even unkind words and malice thoughts. Jesus paid it all to forgive all the sins of those who trust in his atoning sacrifice.
This liberty and joy of knowing one’s sins are forgiven surpasses any word we might use to describe it. If some one came along and freely paid off your mortgage or auto loan, you would likely be ecstatic. Jesus did far more than that.
Those who trust in this truth and let its weight sink down deep in them ought to be more than willing to forgive others when others sin against them. How foolish and ungrateful would it be to demand someone make amends for stepping on your toe when Jesus let the full weight of your sin come down on his head? Alexander Pope once said, “To err is human; to forgive is divine.” Forgiveness demonstrates our union with Christ.
The leader of the Amish community who forgave the murderer of those six beloved girls said in an interview shortly after the crime: “If you hold a grudge, it will live on in your heart until it leads to violence of some kind. If you do not forgive, then you cannot be healed. Forgiveness can heal the forgiver as well as the one who is forgiven.” Not only does forgiving others demonstrate our union with Christ, it also frees us to love, even when we want to hate.
Who do you need to ask God to help you forgive today? Look to the Son, and forgive like the Son forgave you.