In an article for Foxnews, Angel Hatfield shared a powerful story on forgiveness.
Hatfield, who serves as executive producer for a movie “Because of Gracia” grew up in a Christian home. In fact, her father pastored a church.
As she left her teen years, Hatfield became rebellious:
“I skated in sin believing the big lie that there was more pleasure to be found in this world than in God.”
Hatfield became pregnant and after hiding her pregnancy for five months, she finally decided to come clean with her father on what had happened.
She was expecting her father to react and judge her for what she had done.
Instead, he hung his head and when he finally spoke, her dad expressed his disappointment for what had happened but then he added:
“And you have made poor choices which now have consequences. It won’t be easy — and there will be struggles and a hard path ahead of you. But I love you — and now I figure I have been given more to love.”
Then her father walked over and gave her a hug. Hatfield who was now crying asked her dad if he would forgive her, he responded with two words:
Hatfield said her dad’s response of grace was totally unexpected and turned her life around. She wrote:
“Grace has the power to change one within which unleashes the feeling for freedom and propels one in a positive direction. Not the opposite.”
She began working with other unwed mothers and is now producing a movie on the power of grace working in the life of a woman who faced a similar challenge.
Hatfield’s testimony reminds me of the woman caught in adultery who the scribes and pharisees brought to Jesus asking if she should be stoned. After Jesus wrote in the sand, the woman’s accusers began walking away from the oldest to youngest.
10 Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.” (John 8:10-11 NASV)
Instead of condemnation, Jesus offered grace and forgiveness.
8 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1 NASV)
It is a powerful statement. But the verb tense is important. It is the present tense.
Paul is not talking about a future judgement day, he is talking about not living in condemnation today.
And to double-emphasize that point he adds “now” there is no condemnation.
Sometime we can come under condemnation for the deeds we have done or things we have said. If you are like me condemning thoughts can pop into your mind of incidents that took place years ago.
Condemnation hangs over our heads like a dark cloud, beating us down.
There are three sources of condemnation:
- Other people can condemn us such as the pharisees and scribes with the adulterous woman (John 8:10).
- Satan can condemn us. In a vision in the book of Zechariah, the prophet saw satan standing beside the Joshua the High Priest uttering words of accusation (Zechariah 3:1). Though Joshua did not see satan doing this, he would have felt those words emanating from the spiritual realm and would have been overwhelmed with feelings of condemnation.
- Finally, our own hearts can condemn us (1 John 3:20)
To counter these thoughts, we need to understand and believe that God has completely forgiven us. We must embrace the forgiveness Jesus extended to us.
And there is one more thing, to fully embrace God’s forgiveness and grace, we must also extend it to others.
7 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:1 NASV)
If we judge or condemn others, we will be judged and condemned. If we don’t extend grace and forgiveness, I believe satan has the legal right to condemn us or at the very least we become more susceptible to our own hearts condemning us.
To fully embrace God’s forgiveness and grace, we must also extend it.