What does God forgiving us have to do with how and when we forgive others? Let this month’s Synapse help you make the connection as it recounts a real-life courtroom drama.

9-10: Forgiveness?

Beitzel has no health insurance, and because he hasn’t been able to work since the robbery, both of his cars have been repossessed, and he’s received an eviction notice.

Forgiveness?

by Lyndelle Brower Chiomenti

The people in the courtroom gasped as 20-year-old Steven Beitzel walked over to Ashley Hewitt and said, “I forgive you. All that I ask is that you try to learn from your mistakes.”

What had Hewitt done to him that made Beitzel’s act of mercy so astounding? On April 4, 2010, Hewitt had set Beitzel up to be robbed by her boyfriend. By the time the heist was over, bullets had pierced five of his vital organs. One bullet remains lodged in his spinal cord because it’s too risky to remove it. Beitzel has no health insurance, and because he hasn’t been able to work since the robbery, both of his cars have been repossessed, and he’s received an eviction notice.1

How could Steven Beitzel find it in his heart to forgive Ashley Hewitt? The reporter in the courtroom did not attempt to answer that question. Perhaps it is a question none of us can answer until we, ourselves, find it necessary to forgive someone in order to get on with our lives. As Christians, however, we should learn these two things about forgiveness: (1) the “ground of all forgiveness is found in the unmerited love of God,”2 and (2) “by our attitude toward others we show whether we have made that love our own.”3

To the extent that we allow God’s love to infuse our mind and heart, so shall we be able to forgive others. Does such forgiveness mean that people who commit crimes should not be tried according to the law? Not by any means! What it does mean is that if a crime is committed against us, be it life-threatening or petty, we are able to let God heal us of our anger, hatred, bitterness, and frustration. We allow Him to pick us up and move us on with our life.

Will Beitzel’s forgivness of Hewitt mean that they will become best friends? Most likely not. However, it quite possibly could mean that both will be healed spiritually.

Whom do you need to forgive today?
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1. The Frederick News-Post, Friday, August 13, 2010, pp. 1, 2.
2. Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 251.
3. Ibid.