If you haven’t seen or heard of Netflix’s “Making a Murderer,” there’s a chance you live in a cave. The documentary is all about a guy named Steven Avery, who was wrongfully accused of rape and spent 18 years in prison. Avery wanted those years back. He sued for $36 million in compensation for the time he spent in jail as an innocent man. No matter how wrong they were or how high the cost, those 18 years were gone forever and no amount of money could buy them back.
A reporter asked Avery if would ever forgive the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department for their role in his guilty sentencing and Avery said he didn’t think he’d ever be able to forgive those involved.
You may be asking yourself, “How does this apply to me?”
Jesus said, “If you forgive those who have sinned against you, your heavenly father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your heavenly father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15). God loved us so much that He sent His son, Jesus, to die for our sins; to forgive us. It was the greatest act of love ever.
Love requires forgiveness. When we refuse to forgive, we refuse to love. Refusing to love is hate. The apostle John writes, “If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? (1 John 4:20)
We’ve all been hurt in one way or another and we have a choice to make: Do you forgive them? Not “will you” but “do you?”
Do you forgive your abusive father or the father that was never there? Do you forgive your mom for verbally ripping you apart? Do you forgive your unfaithful (ex)spouse for wrecking your marriage and family? Do you forgive him for gambling all of your money away? Do you forgive her for the credit card debt? Do you forgive your daughter for lying to you about where she was last night? Do you forgive your son for his rebellious and disrespectful behavior?
Here’s what I know is true: your father will never be able to pay for the hurt he caused you. The money is gone and won’t be back in your bank tomorrow. Those lies your daughter told you can never be untold.
We gain nothing when we expect those who hurt us to pay for the hurt they caused, because they can’t. When we refuse to forgive, we only hurt ourselves. We lose eternal life with our heavenly Father.
What will you choose? Will you choose not to forgive? To hate? Or will you choose to forgive? To love?
Love does. Love forgives.