"A Lesson In Forgiveness"
September 6, 2007
And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. Mark 11:25
With 30 arrests for drug-related thefts and driving infractions, Timothy Barnhart is a dangerous man. How dangerous? In 2005, driving with a revoked license and under the influence of crack-cocaine, Barnhart tried to pass another vehicle near Prairietown, Illinois. He didn’t make it.
Four-year-old Mason Scroggins, and his brother, 10-year-old Bryan, were killed in the head-on collision that took place. Their mother, Holly, was critically injured. She was in a coma when her two boys were buried. Her husband, Bryan, stayed by her side for two weeks, leaving the hospital only to get clothes for their sons’ funeral.
Timothy Barnhart is a dangerous man, but this devotion isn’t about Timothy Barnhart. It is about Bryan and Holly Scroggins. As a father and grandfather, I don’t know how I would have reacted to the man who was responsible for killing my children. I know how I should act, but I don’t really know what I would do.
I do know what Bryan and Holly did. When Bryan was staying with his wife in the hospital, he found out that Timothy, a dangerous man, was hospitalized on the same floor. Bryan said, “I prayed for him, too.” This past week, when Timothy was given an 18-year prison sentence for his actions, Holly had the opportunity of talking to the man who was responsible for her overwhelming loss.
What did she do? She didn’t curse him. She didn’t spit at him. Holly patted the man on the shoulder, gave him a hug and said, “I forgive you.”
I don’t know if Holly and her husband are Lutherans, Catholics, Presbyterians, or Baptists. I don’t even know for sure if they are Christians, but I think they must be. They have put into practice the words of the Savior, “Whenever you stand praying, forgive. If you have anything against anyone. . .” you should forgive. Holly and Bryan have managed to forgive the man who has robbed them of happy Father’s and Mother’s day celebrations. They have set an example for every one of us by showing us how to forgive –that which is almost unforgivable.
Forgiveness. We, who have–because of the Christ’s life, death, and resurrection–been forgiven, now are given the opportunity to do the same for others. Today, and every day let us, if we have “anything against anyone” be committed to forgive as we have been forgiven. It is what Jesus has asked us to do.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, as You have forgiven me with Your suffering and sacrifice, may I forgive all those who have sinned against me. In Your Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries