There’s a story about a death row inmate named Rusty. He had brutally killed several people and was sitting on death awaiting his fate when he became a Christian. Immediately, he began to change. He even sent letters to the families of his victims, apologizing for his actions and asking for their forgiveness.
About a year later, one of the families arranged to visit with him. You can imagine the tension and fear as Rusty faced the family of one of the victims. The victim’s father looked Rusty square in the eyes and said, “For years, I hated you. But when I came to understand that Christ has forgiven me of all my sins, I knew I had no choice but to forgive you. We’re here today to let you know that we forgive you.”*
That kind of forgiveness is not natural; it’s supernatural. It’s the supernatural power of Jesus that gave that family the ability to forgive such a horrific act that took the life of their loved one. It’s a spirit that is distinct to Christianity – the willingness to forgive others that do not deserve our forgiveness at all. We forgive because that’s exactly what God does for us. He forgives us through the cross even though we are completely undeserving.
Believing this brings us peace with God. And this peace gives us a desire to be at peace with others—through forgiveness.
*Being the Body, Chuck Colson