Draw near to God – Day 5
Draw near to God by forgiving others
On November 5th, 2003, the United States Supreme Court, in Seattle, was packed. Family members and friends of the 48 murdered women came to give messages to the 54-year-old, Gary Leon Ridgway (also known as the Green River Killer), before the judge sentenced him to life in prison without the option of parole.
Ridgway’s murders made him the biggest serial killer in American history. To avoid a hearing and possible death penalty, he signed an agreement with the state to provide more information about the victims to the police.
The speeches in the courtroom were filled with anger, scorn and hatred towards Ridgway. He sat listening with a stark, emotionless face. It was when the elderly father of one of the victims, Richard Rule, with his long white beard, stepped up to the podium that the unthinkable happened. He started speaking in a deep voice: “Mister Ridgway, there are people in this room who hate you … I’m not one of them. You have made it very difficult for me to live out what I believe and what God requires of me – to forgive you. But today I say to you, I forgive you …” This act of grace suddenly caused tears to stream down the serial killer’s face. And then he sobbed. Instead of bitterness and hatred, he experienced a moment of grace – undeserved grace.
Do you realise that we, too, were on the verge of death before Jesus bestowed undeserved grace upon us, 2 000 years ago when He died on the cross?
Is there someone in your life (alive or dead) who hurt you so terribly that you find it hard to even imagine that you would be able to forgive him or her? Maybe, the biggest reason why you don’t want to forgive, is because you feel your forgiveness would free that person, while you still have to endure the pain of their hurting? This is what the enemy wants us to believe. He will do anything to prevent the act or thought of forgiveness; he knows that an unforgiving heart leads to bitterness and hatred, causing a barrier in our relationship with God.
Forgiveness is very important to God, but especially to people. In Matthew 6:14-15 Jesus said: “If you forgive people their sins, your Father in heaven will forgive your sins also. If you do not forgive people their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Our forgiveness towards others indicates, to God, that we are placing Him in control of our lives. We must be mindful that He is a righteous judge (Psalm 7:11), who in His time and way poses judgment. When we forgive, it not only sets us free, but also restores our relationship with God, as the barrier of unforgiveness has been removed.
Remember, Jesus bestowed grace upon us. Now, we can have eternal life. Let us give God a chance to strengthen each one of us, by His Holy Spirit, to be able to forgive. We might be surprised at the restoration it brings in our relationship with Him. God bless.