FORGIVING THOSE WHO HARM
Thank you, Father, for the gift of Christian brothers and sisters who encourage and strengthen me. Thank you for the koinonia we share.
Read 2 TIMOTHY 4:9-22
9 Do your best to come to me quickly, 10 for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry. 12 I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. 13 When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.
14 Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. 15 You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message.
16 At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. 17 But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
19 Greet Priscilla[a] and Aquila and the household of Onesiphorus. 20 Erastus stayed in Corinth, and I left Trophimus sick in Miletus. 21 Do your best to get here before winter. Eubulus greets you, and so do Pudens, Linus, Claudia and all the brothers and sisters.[b]
22 The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you all.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.’1
Paul was about to forsake this earth for the presence of his Lord. Though he has been deserted, Paul’s love is revealed in verse 16: ‘May it not be held against them.’ He forgave his deserters for fearing to stand by him. Forgiveness is part of Christian ministry. Jesus forgave us from the cross, Stephen forgave his enemies, and now Paul forgives – but it is one of the hardest tasks.
As William Tyndale was being strangled and burned for translating the Bible into English, his last words were, ‘Lord, open the eyes of the King of England.’2 Later, English Bibles were put into every church. Patrick Ireland was a survivor of the horrific Columbine High School massacre where 13 were killed and 24, including Patrick, were injured. Throughout his long recovery, Patrick learned that bitterness causes further wounding. God showed Patrick that the key to forgiveness was to stop focusing on what others had done to us and to focus on what God had done for us. Christ’s words from the cross, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing,’3 revealed a purpose for Patrick; 20 years after the tragedy, he shared, ‘Maybe I was chosen to forgive.’4
A nun was killed and thrown off a bus in India by a fundamentalist. The nun’s sister visited the murderer in jail and said, ‘We as a family forgive you.’ With the help of the Bishop of Bhopal, they met the governor and requested him to commute the sentence. When the man was released, they took him to their home in Kerala. He accepted Christ. The leader of the persecutors of Christians in the Khandamal massacres was witnessed to by the son of the man he killed; he became a believer and now preaches. Forgiveness is possible, though it needs the help of the Holy Spirit.
Ask God to help us forgive our enemies.
I lift up my church leaders to you today, Lord. Strengthen them in their ministries, give them encouragement and blessing.
1 Matt 6:15 2 John Foxe, “Book of Martyrs” (1563) 3 Luke 23:34 4 Elsa Morgan, ‘Chosen to Forgive’, Our Daily Bread, Devotion, June 2, 2020
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