The Power of Your Forgiveness
by Tom Goodman
October 1, 2008
The world watches in stunned amazement when believers practice our Lord's command to forgive.
Tomorrow is the two-year anniversary of the tragic shooting of ten Amish girls -- five of them fatally -- at a one-room schoolhouse in Pennsylvania. The gunman took his own life as police stormed the building.
It was the Amish response as much as the murders that grabbed the world's attention. They forgave the gunman, and some even attended the man's funeral in support for his widow and three children.
"Your love for our family has helped to provide the healing we so desperately need," the killer's
widow wrote the Amish later. "Your compassion has reached beyond our family, beyond our community, and is changing our world."
In truth, though, the Amish 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.
But that's 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
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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