"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." Lk 23:34
I heard a father interviewed on the radio this week who had forgiven the man who had stabbed his son to death. He spoke of the shock and grief experienced by the whole family and the pride they felt when this son, husband and father was posthumously awarded a gallantry medal.
A Hard Prayer To Pray
We let the words of our Lord's prayer, "forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us," so easily fall from our lips. "Father, forgive them," is perhaps not so hard to say when we feel the sin against us is minor. But what if, like Jesus, we have been misrepresented, lied about, our integrity called into question. What if, like the father of the murdered son, our whole life has been shattered by the act of another. How easy is it then to pray a prayer of forgiveness? Wouldn't we rather be angry, wouldn't we prefer to retaliate, if only with words? Wouldn't we like to malign the one who has maligned us?
There is no benefit, no victory in allowing unforgiveness to fester in our hearts. We think, "how can I let them off the hook by forgiving them?" But forgiveness is as much for our benefit as that of the one who is guilty of offending against us. When we don't forgive we condemn ourselves to a life of bitterness and misery. The devil, who wants us off the battlefield, has won when we sit at home nursing our wounds. Where's the victory in that? The victory comes when we recognise who we really should be angry with - not the flesh and blood person before us, but the one who has manipulated the circumstances and infected the thinking of the perpetrator, who is as much the victim as we are (Eph 6:12).
Prayer College Assignment
Are you bearing a grudge or holding on to lack of forgiveness towards someone who has sinned against you? You may not yet feel able to pray, "Father, forgive them." But you can pray, "Father, bring me to the point where I can forgive them."