«And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you» (Ephesians 4:32).
In 1975, Ricky was indicted for the murder of a businessman in Ohio (USA). At seventeen, this young African American boy was deprived of his freedom because of the testimony of a twelve-year old child named Eddie. He was sentenced to death, but because of a courthouse error with regard to the instructions of his execution, he was sentenced with life in prison instead. However, Eddie’s testimony was false as it was invented under police pressure.
_He was also afraid that his parents might be punished, so he just kept completely silent. But guilt and remorse made him confess his lie thirty-nine years later while he was hospitalized. That same day, relief overwhelmed the accuser’s heart and opened the door of freedom for the one who had been unjustly imprisoned. According to the National Register of Exonerations, among those who were released on the basis of wrongful conviction, Ricky Jackson was the innocent man who spent the longest time imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. What do you think were Ricky’s feelings toward Eddie? What were his thoughts during all these years of imprisonment? On the day of his release, to everybody’s admiration, he declared: «l don’t hate him . . . he was just a child back then.» What a noble declaration! He just excused the grave injustice that was done to him!
Only a few hours were left before Christ had to suffer a shameful death. He knew what was about to happen, so He went to the Garden of Gethsemane with His disciples. His loving heart wanted them to join Him, as their prayers would & bring comfort to His agony. But they could not accompany Him in prayer—not even for an hour—and they fell asleep (Mark 14:37). Even so, Jesus tried to excuse them by saying, «The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak» (v. 38). Hours later, while hanging on the cross, He displayed the same attitude toward His executors when He said, «Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do» (Luke 23:34).
How many times people become estranged for much less than this! There are so many who feel hurt by a simple look! A difference of opinion; maybe some harsh words. Instead of excusing the offender, who probably has had a bad day, or who is facing struggles, we know nothing about, we are tough on our neighbor and treat him as the fiercest enemy.
Let us ask God to give us a forgiving heart today, to imitate Jesus who forgave those who wronged Him.