“Father, forgive them for they do not know what
they are doing.” Luke 23:34a

On January 23, 1999, 58-year-old Australian Baptist missionary Graham Staines
and his two sons were burned to death when
the vehicle they were sleeping in
was doused with gasoline and set on fire,
allegedly by members of a Hindu
fundamentalist group, in the Indian state of
Orissa. Graham Staines had been
working with leprosy patients for thirty-four

Hundreds of millions witnessed Gladys Staines, Graham Staines’
widow, forgive
her family’s murderers in the name of the gospel on Indian
television—a scene
which moved many to tears “and may have achieved more for
the gospel in India
than many years of missionary work,” according to an
Indian evangelist.

Describing her prompt forgiveness of the killers as a
“spontaneous act,”
Gladys Staines says, “it took away the bitterness” that
otherwise would have
remained in her heart. Since the incident she has people
coming to her door
asking how they can become Christians.

The imagery
she used was also powerful. “Let us burn hatred…and spread the
flame of
Christ’s love.”

Forgiveness is to be given even when it is not asked for.
On the cross,
forgiveness was one of the first words of Jesus. The soldiers
doing the
crucifying had not asked for forgiveness but Jesus realized their
need of it.

Forgiveness can only be truly accomplished in the power of
the Holy Spirit.
But when given, it communicates most powerfully the love of
God. And we are
called to be like God, to bear God’s family

Forgiveness is a personal transaction that releases the one
offended from the
offense. The forgiveness required by the scriptures is more
than detached or
limited forgiveness, it is full and complete forgiveness in
which there is a
total cessation of negative feelings toward the offender and
the relationship
being restored has the possibility to grow.

Today I will show Christ’s love by forgiving those who do not even
ask for

PRAYER: Lord, may I be like You and through the power of
Your Holy Spirit
forgive completely those who bring offenses against me.

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