Home » Forgiveness » As We Forgive Those Who Sin Against Us (Part 1)

As We Forgive Those Who Sin Against Us (Part 1)

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One of the most amazing things that I’ve ever seen was during the sentencing of the Green River Killer. Remember him? He killed dozens of women in Washington State, and they caught him using DNA evidence. As part of a plea bargain he provided details on a lot of his murders in exchange for life in prison instead of the death penalty.

We watched the sentencing phase on TV, when the families of the victims were given an opportunity to confront him. We sat there watching all these families go up to speak to him. One woman said, “You know, after you killed my daughter, you put a door over her face. You covered her body with a door. So they couldn’t find her. You know, when that prison door slams in your face, I hope you rot.”

The Crucifixion of Christ. Stained glass, from the cloisters of Steinfeld Abbey in Cologne, Germany, ca 1538

And the killer just sat there, showing no emotion. He just looked at her. You know, it was like he was dead inside. He had nothing.

Family after family came up, sharing just how angry they were with this guy. And these people were devastated. They had aged. They told him things like, “You know what, you’ve ruined my family. I’ve gotten divorced over this. You’ve ruined my marriage. My kids are ruined.” And they were just blaming him, and blaming him, and blaming him, and blaming him, right? For everything. And there’s some truth to it!

And throughout the whole thing, the television cameras would show us this guy, and he had no emotion whatsoever. He’s a serial killer. He has no emotion.

Until this one guy gets up. He was probably fifty, maybe sixty years old. He was clean cut, with a neatly-trimmed white beard, dressed nicely, and just a good countenance about him. This man sat down, looked at the Green River Killer, and he said, “You killed my daughter. And I forgive you.”

He said that! “I forgive you.”

He went on to say, “And I think my God forgives you. And I wanted to tell you that before you go to jail – because you’re going to go to jail for what you did. I want you to know that I have forgiven you for what you have done. And I hope you understand that the reason I can forgive you is because of how big my God is. And I hope you meet my God.”

The cameras panned back to this serial killer. He started weeping. His whole body was just wracked with tears.

I was almost ready to tear up. I looked at my wife and I said, “That was the most amazing thing I have ever seen.”

See you Friday.

9 thoughts on “As We Forgive Those Who Sin Against Us (Part 1)

  1. Thanks for this post, Jeremy. One of the most difficult things for me (and I think for many believers) is to forgive. We are commanded to do so, because God loves the transgressor as much as He loves those who were sinned against. I pray that I will have the strength to forgive others in my own life as that man did in your example above.

  2. God’s ways are so much higher than our ways! Forgiveness is more for us than the person who has wronged us. If we don’t forgive we give the enemy a foothold. That foothold usually takes on the root of bitterness and it defiles everyone around us. The Bible says in Romans that “vengeance is mine says the Lord, I will repay.” Forgiving isn’t always easy, but the Lord is there to give us the strength to do it and it truly does set us free. I once heard that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die from it. Looking forward in reading part 2.
    To God be the glory!

  3. I’m a retired LEO and mom of 3 … I have struggled greatly with these ideas for years with all I’ve seen. It is only through God’s grace that one can truly be at peace enough to forgive after such a horrific loss.

  4. Jeremy! I grew up in the Middle East, lived all my life, childhood, adolescence and adulthood until the last 11 years in War ravaged Beirut. I’ve seen people get shot, bombed, slaughtered, slapped, humiliated, and I was ONE of them. I saw my friends, family, classmates, teachers, neighbors, get killed, torn apart, destroyed by war, civil and inflicted by others.
    I grew knowing that GOD is LOVE! God is GOOD! God is forgiving, and despite all that hate around me, the disappointment, death, my parents took me to church, sent me to school everyday, taught me that knowledge, faith and love will go a LOOOONG Way.
    And it did.
    I don’t have a face for the killer that really took the lives of the people I love, but I have a reason to hate that “being” . I have the right to scream and yell and demand an apology. But I’m in a LOOOONG line of people who feel the same way.

    I’ve learned to forgive, forget and give it to GOD! He knows what to do with it, He gave me peace, gave me comfort and will forever hold my hand and lead the way. He kept me alive all these years, regardless of all things I’ve been through.

    YES I can’t sleep in the dark, I won’t ever go down a dark basement or would forever feel nervous and anxious if I hear an airplane fly over my head or fireworks just popping for the 4th, but I have a million reasons to be thankful for God’s Love.

  5. Thank you, Jeremy. What an amazing piece of writing, told from the heart! I was really touched. I was actually shocked at the awesome power of God’s love revealed in the midst of so much torment.

  6. The moment I saw your tweet regarding the title of this blog post I got my laptop and read it immediately. The past two weeks Jesus has been stirring my heart and mind on this topic, forgiving those who do acts that we deem “unforgivable”. Human nature is to blame others when we have no answer, to blame and point the finger and rightly so in cases. Our sermon two weeks ago was regarding the cross of Christ and what does that really mean. Basic stuff at the time I thought and then I was reminded with this truth, Jesus hanging on the cross, bloody, beaten, dying bore ALL of man’s sins. He felt at that moment and took on for humanity every sin in the world and my mind forgets that is the “unforgivable” sins as well. He hung on that cross, broke down the barrier and died so we may have everlasting life. Not to hate but love and forgive. Because God is greater. Awesome post, thank you!

  7. First time commenting here, but I’ve been reading this blog whenever I can. One of my followers on Twitter made me become a better Christian and it dealt with forgiveness. Before, I wasn’t very forgiving. Now, I have become better at the process. So, this new post really did strike me.

    It helped that his birthday’s on Epiphany. Thanks for reminding me that I need to stay forgiving Mr. Affeldt. I can always use that reminder.

    – Don Umali, a long time Giants fan

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