There is an idiom that says, “To err is human and to Forgive is Divine”, It is not always easy to forgive those who hurt us or wrong us. Forgiveness is especially difficult when people repay our goodness and kindness with evil. In fact, as human beings without God’s grace, it will be difficult to forgive certain things.
There are two stories that I want to share from the bible to illustrate the power of forgiveness. The first is about a Prophet called Zechariah and a King called Joash. The story is taken from 2 Chronicles 24:20-25.
“20Then the Spirit of God came on Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest. He stood before the people and said, ‘This is what God says: ‘Why do you disobey the Lord’s commands? You will not prosper. Because you have forsaken the Lord, he has forsaken you.’ 21 But they plotted against him, and by order of the king they stoned him to death in the courtyard of the Lord’s temple. 22 King Joash did not remember the kindness Zechariah’s father Jehoiada had shown him but killed his son, who said as he lay dying, ‘May the Lord see this and call you to account.’ 23 At the turn of the year, the army of Aram marched against Joash; it invaded Judah and Jerusalem and killed all the leaders of the people. They sent all the plunder to their king in Damascus. 24 Although the Aramean army had come with only a few men, the Lord delivered into their hands a much larger army. Because Judah had forsaken the Lord, the God of their ancestors, judgment was executed on Joash. 25 When the Arameans withdrew, they left Joash severely wounded. His officials conspired against him for murdering the son of Jehoiada the priest, and they killed him in his bed. So he died and was buried in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings.”
So in this story, Prophet Zechariah was innocently killed by King Joash because he advised Joash to do the right thing and serve God. Joash killed him eventhough it was Zechariah’s father, Jehoiada the priest, that God used to make Joash king. So when Zechariah was dying and he asked God to avenge his death, God honored his prayer and Joash was murdered by his servants. While Jehoiada was buried among the tombs of the king, Joash was not because of his wickedness.
The second story is about Apostle Paul formerly called Saul and Stephen a deacon. In Acts 7: 54-59. 54, “When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’ At this they covered their ears and yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.”
So in a similar story, Stephen was speaking to the high priest also called the Sanhedrin. He explained through history that Jesus was the Christ and they should repent and believe in Him. Like Zechariah, the people with the approval of Apostle Paul who was then called Saul, stoned Stephen to death. However, while he was dying, unlike Zechariah, he asked God to accept his spirit and forgive them. In fact, this was the exact words that Jesus said in Luke 23:34-46, when he was being crucified on the cross, he asked God to accept his spirit and forgive those who crucified him. Stephen knowing of this, followed the example of Jesus. Now, implications of what Stephen did were very great. If Stephen did not make that prayer, God would have held it against Apostle Paul and he would have been judged like Joash. He would not have written the 13 books of the new testament in the bible from Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, Ephesians and so on. It was Stephen’s prayer that made Paul who he was. And Paul was the greatest of all the Apostles.
This is the power of forgiveness. So you may be going though pain that you have told yourself you can never forgive. I want to say you may be justified because heaven knows you have been wronged, but please, ask God for grace to forgive, He will give it to you. For instance, if your spouse cheats on you, you are justified by biblical standards to divorce, but also God can help you to forgive. Your forgiveness will go a long way in transforming lives. May God give you the grace to forgive others, just as He has forgiven us in Jesus name. Have a blessed day.