(Jesus said) "Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven." Luke 6:37
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
The salvation story of Jesus Christ reaches around the world. So that the readers of our Daily Devotion may see the power of the Savior on a global scale, we have asked the volunteers of our International Ministry Centers to write our Friday devotions. We pray that the Spirit may touch your day through their words.
In Christ, I remain, His servant and yours,
Kenneth R. Klaus
Speaker Emeritus of The Lutheran Hour
Graham Stuart Staines was an Australian missionary who did wonderful mission work among the lepers of Baripada in the state of Odisha, India.
He, along with his two sons, Philip (aged nine) and Timothy (aged seven), were burned alive on January 22, 1999, as they slept in their jeep. They had been resting because they were tired from having finished a Gospel program.
After the murders, Staines' wife, Gladys, issued a statement in which said she had forgiven the killers and harbored no bitterness towards them. The whole world was amazed she could work through her agony; many praised her for her courageous spirit of forgiveness.
Today's meditation text teaches us to be rich in forgiveness.
The teaching of our Lord Jesus encourages us to forgive others. The text is part of some of the Savior's more comprehensive teachings about human relationships. The Savior begins by sharing that doing good to those who do good to you is pretty much the standard for humanity.
But Jesus emphasizes that His disciples ought to live their lives with a different standard, a higher standard, a standard which loves your enemies. When we do this we are worthy of being called "the children of the Most High" (see Luke 6:35).
Of course, we know it is a contradiction for me to ask for God's forgiveness, when I cannot forgive the transgressions done by someone else. Here, and in the Lord's Prayer, we are taught that since we are forgiven by the Savior, our faith will wish to reflect that spirit of forgiveness to others.
Theologically speaking, when there is forgiveness, there is double liberation. The person who is forgiven is liberated from that sin, and the person who forgives is free from carrying the anger and desire for revenge that sin had brought with it.
Jesus demonstrated this gracious type of forgiveness when He suffered and died on Calvary's cross. There, in His pain, the Savior prayed, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34a).
Now, if you were to ask me, "Has that prayer accomplished anything?
Look around. Today, by the Holy Spirit's power, millions are being called to faith, forgiveness and are released from the power of eternal death and destruction.
My friends, the world is a sick placed filled with people who relish and cling to their unforgiving spirit, their hatred, anger, revenge, bitterness, resentment, etc. In contrast to the world, the Lord is looking for people who can forgive and love from the heart. He knows there is no more powerful force on earth than that which comes from our risen Savior.
Mahatma Gandhi, the "Father of India" said, "The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong."
And so it is. Christians who are saved by grace are motivated to powerfully share the Savior. God grant we may do so with forgiveness in our hearts. Amen.
THE PRAYER: Loving Lord, grant us inner strength to forgive and love even our worst offenders. This I ask in the Savior's Name. Amen.
Biography of Author: The author of today's international devotion is Pastor D. Geevadhas. The good reverend, the son of a pastor, was born and brought up in a Lutheran Christian family. He graduated from Tamilnadu in Madurai. He has served as a missionary in Tamilnadu for one year and has been in the parish ministry for eight. Our pastor works with the Christian Media Centre, India, (Lutheran Hour Ministries-India) and serves the Lord as our audience relations officer. He is married and has a daughter in the fourth grade. The Christian Media Centre's online religious broadcasts and television programs reach out to Tamil- and Hindu-speaking people in this country of 1.2 billion people. This 60-plus-year-old ministry center also relays the Gospel to "live" audiences through devotional songs, short dramas, and dialogues. Ministry-sponsored youth groups perform public music programs, stage plays, and dance. Local groups also conduct Gospel rallies for large audiences in cities and remote villages. Bible Correspondence Courses (BCC) are also available in six different official languages: Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Hindi Marathi, Gujarati and English.
To learn more about our International Ministries, click here or visit www.lhmint.org.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries