Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
I talked in Part 1 about ‘last conversations’ and the terrible things that happened in September 11, 2001 in New York. Phone conversations were released where people desperately trying to escape picked their phones and spoke to their loved ones with some really moving messages. And I also mentioned about Jesus on the cross—his last conversation. He said, “Father, forgive them; they don’t know what they are doing.”
The Roman soldiers had beaten and mocked him and, even as Jesus spoke these words, they “divided up his clothes by casting lots.” God is willing to forgive you and me! If Jesus so freely forgave his tormentors at the cross—those who mocked him, beat him, scourged him, gambled for his clothing, ridiculed him, and watched as those in power sought to humiliate and degrade him through the public spectacle of crucifixion—he can forgive us if we will come to him and receive this grace.
The word ‘forgive’ is borrowed from the world of commerce and banking. It means to cancel a debt or to pardon a loan. Phillip Yancey, in his book What’s So Amazing About Grace? gives some great insight when he reminds us that the word forgive contains the word ‘give’. To forgive is to cancel the debt of someone so that they never have to pay us back for what they’ve done to us. It’s to give grace to someone who doesn’t deserve it.
Reaching Out to the Undeserving
We can learn that forgiveness reaches out to the undeserving. The people who had beaten Jesus, mocked him, and nailed him to the cross did not deserve forgiveness. But Jesus through his kindness offered it to them. The point is that forgiveness reaches out to the undeserving.
Chris Carrier of Coral Gables, Florida, was abducted when he was 10-years-old. His kidnapper, angry with the boy’s family, burned him with cigarettes, stabbed him numerous times with an ice pick, then shot him in the head and left him to die in the Everglades. Remarkably, the boy survived, though he lost sight in one eye. No-one was ever arrested.
We can learn that forgiveness reaches out to the undeserving.
Recently, a man confessed to the crime. Carrier, now a youth minister, went to see him. He found David McAllister, a 77-year-old ex-convict, frail and blind, living in a North Miami Beach nursing home. Carrier began visiting often, reading to McAllister from the Bible and praying with him. His ministry opened the door for McAllister to make a profession of faith.
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No arrest is forthcoming; after twenty-two years, the statute of limitations on the crime is long past. In Christian Reader (Jan/Feb 98), Carrier says:
While many people can’t understand how I could forgive David McAllister, from my point of view I couldn’t not forgive him. If I’d chosen to hate him all these years, or spent my life looking for revenge, then I wouldn’t be the man I am today, the man my wife and children love, the man God has helped me to be.
David McAllister didn’t deserve forgiveness. He beat and tortured a little child. However, Chris Carrier had the Christ-like heart to forgive him. We must likewise forgive people who don’t deserve it.
Changing Hate into Love
In your last conversation, would you forgive those who hurt you? Would you carry a grudge to your last breath?
A young soldier was going off to fight in World War II against the Japanese. As his father put him on the train and waved good-bye he turned with bitter tears and said, “If my son is killed I hope every Jap in the world is killed!” Yet the fact that the father was a Christian made it difficult to feel that way in reality.
In your last conversation, would you forgive those who hurt you?
He had a fierce struggle with himself and finally realised that it was not Christian to hate, whether his son lived or died. He declared rather, “I will not hate. I refuse to be destroyed by hate!” A year later the son was killed. Soon life insurance money arrived. The father did not really need the $10,000 so he sent it to the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board and designated it for missions to the Japanese.
How could the father do that? Only by the miracle of Calvary! Only God can change bitterness and hate into love.
Source: The story of Chris Carrier was sourced from www.sermoncentral.com