“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” – Matthew 6:14
In the spring of 1981, both Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II were shot and seriously wounded in assassination attempts. Even though each struggled to survive, both the President and the Pope made it a priority to forgive the very people who tried to kill them.
Ronald Reagan said, “I realized I couldn’t ask for God’s help while at the same time I felt hatred for the mixed up young man who had shot me. Isn’t that the meaning of the lost sheep? We’re all God’s children and therefore, equally beloved by Him. I began to pray for his soul and that he would find his way back into the fold.” And we also remember those amazing pictures of Pope John Paul II, seeking out the man who tried to kill him and there in his prison cell – sitting face to face – forgiving him.
Now these are not normal responses when someone tries to kill you! Where did these great men learn such actions? They learned it from Jesus! And not only did they learn it from Jesus, but also they were empowered by the Holy Spirit to be able to forgive. This ability and motivation to forgive under those circumstances could only come from one source – the One who said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they do.”
If Jesus can provide these leaders with the ability to forgive their assassins, don’t you think He can give you the power to forgive those who have offended you?