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The only survivor of white supremacist Mark Stroman’s bloody rampage after Sept 11, 2001 is asking that his attacker be spared the death penalty Wednesday for his crimes….
…I forgave Mark Stroman many years ago," he writes on his blog. "I believe he was ignorant, and not capable of distinguishing between right and wrong, otherwise he wouldn’t have done what he did." (You must read this)
How many of us could say this? How easy is it to forgive? Look around you, examine your own life, have you forgiven people who have hurt you, wronged you? Have you forgiven your parents that abused you or the priest that took advantage of you? Have you been able to let go and let God? Have you found the place in your heart were forgiveness lives? Or is it just a dark spot?
Forgiveness is not easy, yet it is something we all must learn to do. Jesus, on his cross, forgave:
And Jesus said: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. But they, dividing his garments, cast lots. (Luke 23:34)
In the New Testament, Jesus speaks of the importance of Christians forgiving or showing mercy towards others. The Parable of the Prodigal Son is perhaps the best known instance of such teaching and practice of forgiveness.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus repeatedly spoke of forgiveness, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Matthew 5:7 (NIV) “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24 (NIV) “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11:25 (NIV) “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also.” Luke 6:27-29 (NIV) “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:36 (NIV) “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:37 (NIV)
Elsewhere, it is said, "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-seven times.’" Matthew 18:21-22 (NAS)
Jesus asked for God’s forgiveness of those who crucified him. "And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’" Luke 23: 34 (ESV)
In his time, Jesus created controversy among the Pharisees, when he told people their sins were forgiven. "The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, ‘Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’" Luke 5:21 (NIV) (Read this)
Pope John Paul II also forgave his would be killer (read this), But can we, me and you, forgive? I know I have a hard time with this concept, I hold grudges for a long long time… It is one of my many human traits that I must work on, daily. It is some thing I have prayed about, seek guidance for and something that I am aware of. It is, in a nut shell, something that is holding be back from being the creation that God wishes me to be. Forgiveness… We all say it, but do we all truly mean it, do we truly understand it. I know I don’t, but I also know that once a crack that nut, I will be in a much better place than I am now…