Maher, Matthew

Matthew Maher.

I never understood the importance of forgiveness, nor did I contemplate the magnitude of grace that it took to apply it to a difficult situation. I never pondered the freedom it gives when you have been the recipient of it. I didn’t have to, at least not until I came to a point in my life where I needed it.

Until that moment, forgiveness was just an abstract, noble concept, but not an applicable part of reality. 

Even the idea of a forgiving God that I grew up learning about in my younger years, seemed like no big deal, and just another religious fact of life. It was a warm and gracious story, instead of the mind-boggling reality I understand it to be today. 

After that moment, where I stood in my deepest offense against God and man, it was God’s forgiveness that became the resuscitation that my suffocating soul needed, both then and now. 

Those of you who have followed my story know the scene I am referencing. It took place on Jan. 7, 2010 when my victim, Mr. Hort Kap’s son, Noun Ung, extended a hug of mercy to me at my court sentencing. I was so undeserving.

There I stood in the place of judgment, having done my absolute worst, and yet Noun gave me his best. You can watch this amazing act of grace by going to my website - www.truthovertrend.com - and clicking on the “About” tab.

This incredible gift became an appropriate picture of the Gospel, how “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

That is why I am convinced that man’s greatest need is God’s greatest deed. That need is the forgiveness of sins and that deed is the sacrifice of the Son.

Those who have been forgiven should be first and foremost to forgive. I know this may not be easy, depending on the hurt, but it is our spiritual responsibility that keeps bitterness from taking root in our hearts. 

C.S. Lewis once said, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you." Rather, we forgive and extend mercy because we have been forgiven undeservedly by God’s mercy.

Jesus said, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15).

It's indescribable how much forgiveness means to me, and I struggle when I am counseling people who refuse to forgive. If we call ourselves children of God, then we must understand that we have been forgiven an incomprehensible debt.

The way I see it, we are forgiven not only to live, but so we can forgive. Again I say, God’s greatest deed has met man’s greatest need. Let us be about our Father’s business by living in and pointing to the freedom of forgiveness. 

[Maher is the teaching pastor at Coastal Christian Ocean City and is president of Soldiers For Faith Ministries. Social media and website: @TruthOverTrend]