Mark 11:25 “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Matthew 6:15 “But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Dylann Storm Roof, age 21, walked into a bible study group at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, sat down, listened to Jesus’ name being called up in holy reverence, and then pulled out a gun, and shot nine attendees.
Forgiveness. It’s the hardest thing most of us will ever face.
I sat and listened to the news report. My chest ached and tears flowed. How could this happen? What evil possessed this young man? How could he have sat there and heard the precious words of our Lord and Savior, look out over those beautiful, God-loving faces, and then commit such a dastardly deed?
It is beyond comprehension.
But God has used this evil to His glory. Can this really be possible? Oh yes!
Jesus set the example on the cross when he hurled his weakened voice to heaven, proclaiming, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
Now we see forgiveness expressed after this atrocious crime.
Marcus Stanley posted on Dylann’s facebook page, “I don’t know you . . . I don’t look at you with the eyes of hatred or judge you by your appearance or race, but I look at you as a human being that made a horrible decision to take the lives of 9 living and breathing people. . . Give your heart to Jesus and confess your sins with the heart of forgiveness. He is the only one that can save your soul and forgive you for the terrible act you have done. I love you Dylann, even in the midst of the darkness and pain you’ve caused, but more importantly because HE loves you. . .”
Marcus began the example of Christ-like forgiveness. He did not know Dylann. He did not know the 9 children of God who lost their lives. But Marcus knew Jesus. He knew what it meant to forgive. And he paved the way.
Standing in a courtroom, the relatives of the Charleston church shooting victims gave emotional statements. Through tears and with broken hearts, they told Dylann that they forgave him for taking the lives of their loved ones.
“Although my grandfather and the other victims died at the hands of hate, this is proof . . . everyone’s plea for your soul is proof they lived in love and their legacies will live in love,” the grandson of 74-year-old Daniel Simmons said. “So hate won't win.”
Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. told Associated Press, “A hateful person came to this community with some crazy idea he’d be able to divide, but all he did was unite us and make us love each other even more.”
Forgiveness. It’s hard, but we know from Scripture that forgiveness begins the healing of hearts. It’s the power and strength that resides within us—The Power of the Almighty!
“Forgive them for they know not what they do.”
We’ve been given a powerful lesson in forgiveness.
Is there someone you need to forgive? Is there someone who is harboring unforgiveness that you know? Reflect on this post. What would Jesus do?
God bless you,