No Wiggle Room

The USA Today carried the remarkable story of Rosaria Bankundiye and Saveri Nemeye neighbors in the village of Mbyo in Rwanda. The bottom line of the story is that sixteen years ago Saveri along with others of his genocidaires murdered Rosaria’s entire family and left her for dead; yet, today they live side by side and Rosaria has forgiven him. After his release from prison Saveri sought out Rosaria seeking her forgiveness. Astonishingly his request was granted! The way Rosaria saw it she and the murderer shared a common connection. Calling herself a sinner too, she considers forgiveness not as an option but as a requirement. In our “get even”, “tit for tat” culture most will find her forgiveness mind-bogglingly incredible. But the story doesn’t stop with the “required” forgiveness. No, Rosaria has gone the extra several miles that most would not even consider. Today Rosaria and Saveri live as graciously interactive neighbors in complete reconciliation.

This year I am celebrating twenty-four years of ministry. Over those years I’ve counseled countless people who have been abused, neglected, betrayed, maligned, ignored, abandoned, cheated and double-crossed among multiple other wrongs. What I have observed is that folks who have come to the point of forgiving their offender continue to thrive despite the offense; whereas, those that refuse forgiveness set themselves out on a self-imposed descent into the black, hopeless abyss of deterioration, destruction and depression.

When I was young I figured that the rules in the Bible were put there to take the fun out of life. Today, as a survivor myself, I know that they are put there to afford us the greatest opportunity for the life we’ve always wanted.  Jesus clearly taught without any wiggle room whatsoever that we are to forgive anyone and everyone who offends us — no asterisks, no footnotes, and no disclaimers. Unless you have forgiven everybody, then Jesus is not Lord of your life. You are! Who are you allowing to control your life by withholding your forgiveness?

Something to think about.

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