43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”Matthew 5:43-44
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.Colossians 1:13-14
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.Colossians 3:13
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The Free Burma Rangers encounter horrifying levels of brutality. When Dave comes across the corpses of two twenty-year-old females, he wrestles with Jesus’ teaching that we should forgive others. Then he comes undone as he prays: “I want to kill the Burma army… but help me to forgive them and love them.” Other than how hard forgiveness sometimes is, the Rangers teach us four things about forgiveness…
God’s forgiveness is something each of us need. Instead of demonizing the Burmese soldiers, Dave reminds himself that the line between good and evil goes through every heart—his own included. Though our sins may be different in kind to those who have committed more serious crimes, we are all in desperate need of redemption from the dominion of darkness in our lives.
God’s forgiveness empowers us to forgive others. When outraged by the wickedness in another, we need to return to God’s undeserved gift of forgiveness to us. This then enables us to extend forgiveness to others. Saw Nay Htoo was once a child soldier who killed newborn babies and pregnant women. When we witness his baptism and the radiant smile on his face, we see for ourselves the joy that comes from being forgiven. Similarly, as we celebrate the “redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col 1:14) we have received from Jesus, we are able to “forgive as the Lord forgave [us].” (Col 3:13)
As we forgive, we tap into a spiritual power. Since God is a forgiving God, when we forgive others, we discover, as Dave does, “… that it has eternal energy to it.” Obeying a living God Is not a static thing. Rather our obedience—in this case, forgiving others—is connected to the dynamic reality of our having been “brought into the kingdom of the Son he loves.” (Col 1:14)
As we forgive, we allow our enemies to become our friends. No one is too far gone to be rescued by God’s grace. When Saw Nay Htoo wonders if God will ever forgive someone “all bad” like him, Eliya paraphrases Jesus’ words: “Pray for your enemies. Love your enemy… so that our enemy may become our friend one day.” Jesus proves this to be true. By forgiving each of us who once rejected or defied him, he has transformed us from enemies into his friends, even adopting us into his family.
- Have you received God’s forgiveness?
- Have you experienced how God’s forgiving you empowers you to forgive others?
- Is there anyone you need to forgive today?
- Do you have an enemy who you could pray for today?