“So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt.” Matthew 18: 29-30
Since he was 11 years old, Rob’s grandfather, Rob Sr., has worn a patch on his eye. Rob Sr. was born and raised in Simpsonville, SC. His father was police officer and trained him in gun safety. When he was 11 years old he had his own paper route. He’d show up at the Simpsonville Drugstore to pick up the papers to deliver around town.
One day “Old Man Jones” asked Rob Sr. to bring his BB Gun with him to the drug store to shoot some critters that were building a nest in the roof. That day, as Rob Sr. was sitting outside the Simpsonville Drug Store with his BB propped up between his legs, Carol Leak showed up. Carol Leak was only 9 years old and he and Rob Sr. were best friends. Rob Sr.’s BB Gun fascinated Carol.
He wasn’t allowed to handle guns but he would have given anything to shoot one. Suddenly Carol reached down and pulled the trigger on Rob Sr.’s BB Gun while it was propped between his legs. Just as Carol pulled the trigger, Rob Sr. reacted and looked down. The gun went off and shot Rob Sr.’s eye out. That day, Rob Sr.’s life changed forever.
For many people, such an act of foolishness would have been enough to break up a friendship forever. That didn’t happen with Rob Sr. and Carol. They truly were BFF’s. Their friendship stayed in tact through thick and thin. I’m not sure how long it took but Rob Sr. forgave his friend for his foolishness. What Carol did could be considered an accident but he also knew that he was not allowed to handle guns.
Many people think that forgiveness is free. That’s simply not true. Forgiveness is anything but free. Someone has to absorb the cost of the other person’s hurtful actions. Rob Sr. absorbed the cost of Carol’s wrongdoing and their friendship flourished throughout the years. Rob Sr. didn’t hold Carol’s offense against him but set him free through the amazing act of forgiveness. Forgiveness is powerful—it can rebuild what is broken.
Forgiveness is at the heart of Christianity. Each Sunday at Greystone, as we pray the Lord’s Prayer together we ask God to “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” When Jesus taught His disciple to pray the Lord’s Prayer, He explained the direct relationship between being forgiven and giving forgiveness. Jesus said, “if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
God forgives us because Jesus took all of our sins upon Himself on the cross. The Father absorbs the cost of all of our crimes against Him and in return he grants us freedom through forgiveness. Because He forgives us, we can and must forgive others.
“Think of the person who irritates you the most, the one who has hurt you the deepest, the one who deserves forgiveness the least— and then forgive him or her. I can’t promise that you won’t ever feel lonely, afraid, sad, anxious, angry, and frustrated again…What I can say is that you will be surprised by how much better you are when you do what Jesus said to do.” -Steve Brown