Claire Davis’ father spoke at a memorial service honoring his daughter, an Arapahoe High School student shot by a classmate who was angry with his debate team coach. In the course of his extremely emotional, but poignant talk, Michael Davis said, “My wife and I forgive Karl Pierson for what he did. We would ask all of you here and all of you watching to forgive Karl Pierson. He didn’t know what he was doing” (http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_24829368/). This young man entered the school with a shotgun, 125 shells, a machete and three homemade bombs (ibid.). He ended his own life. Despite all these facts, Davis says that he forgives Pierson. Is that possible?
Some say that this is not Mr. Davis’ right nor is he able to do so. I disagree. Mr. Davis says that he did and I have no reason to disbelieve him. His forgiving Pierson cannot effect the young man’s eternal destiny. He does not have the power to absolve or wash away Karl’s sins. Only the blood of Christ can do that. But Mr. Davis’ incredible, magnanimous step is not only possible, it is vital. Taking the step to forgive someone who has sinned against us is a crucial part of healing our own hearts and preventing ourselves from spiritual struggles like bitterness, anger, hatred, malice, and vindictiveness.
A heart ready to forgive is something that must characterize the Christian, for sure. He or she may be hurt or violated in some way by a person who is impenitent and brazen. While the Bible does not suggest that we allow ourselves to be hurt and sinned against repeatedly and without recourse or protection, God’s child eagerly hopes for the best and stands ready to extend forgiveness to others.
Mr. Davis is to be admired for his gesture. It will not bring his daughter or even that young man back from death, but it may be key to his own mending. Many who have been sinned against and have stood ready to forgive have found this to be beneficial to themselves.
The Father in heaven will not forgive those who are not abiding faithfully in His Son, but who doubts that He stands ready to welcome the vilest sinner who truly comes to Him? That disposition could not be more worthy of our adopting. Even in tragedies like that involving Miss Davis we can be reminded of the power of forgiving!