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The Power of Your Forgiveness
by Tom Goodman
August 19, 2015

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When Dylann Roof first appeared in a courtroom, accused of killing nine people at a Bible study at Emmanuel AME church in Charleston, grieving relatives had an opportunity to confront Roof through a video feed.  What they said stunned the world.

"You took something very precious from me, but I forgive you," said the daughter of 70-year-old Ethel Lance.  "We have no room for hating, so we have to forgive," said the sister of another.  "I pray God on your soul."  One by one, representatives of the murdered victims rose for similar statements.

In truth, though, the story convicts us as much as it inspires us.  "Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea," C.S. Lewis wrote.  "That is, until they have something to forgive."

Do you have something to forgive?  Jesus said that forgiven people forgive people.  That's the lesson in Matthew 18:21-35, which we will examine this Sunday at 10am.  It's the last lesson in our summertime series, The Church You've Always Longed For.

Know that Christ's call to forgive is not just a stern command:  It's filled with promise!  Because of God's amazing grace to us, we have the ability show some amazing grace of our own.

The late Corrie Ten Boom discovered this.  Churches often invited her to speak about how her Christian family suffered in Nazi concentration camps for their resistance.  After one church service in Munich, however, one of her former guards came up to her, beaming.  "How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein," he said.  "To think that, as you say, he has washed my sins away!"

He thrust his hand out to shake hers, but she froze.  "I tried to smile," she wrote later.  "I struggled to raise my hand.  I could not.  And so I breathed a silent prayer.  Jesus, I cannot forgive him.  Give me your forgiveness."

And then it happened:  "As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened.  From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.  And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world's healing hinges, but on his.  When he tells us to love our enemies, he gives, along with the command, the love itself."


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