74-year-old Robert Godwin Sr. was walking home after having an Easter meal with his kids. That was when Steven Stephens filmed himself walking up to the elderly man, having a brief conversation with him and then shooting and killing him. In a sick and twisted fashion, Stephens posted this video on Facebook, thus making him known as the “Facebook Killer.” And yet in the midst of such a horrific and tragic event, something amazing has come about.
Some of Godwin family were recently interviewed on CNN. As soon as they were given a chance to speak, they made it clear that they had already forgiven Stephens and felt no animosity towards him. They explained that he clearly wasn’t healthy in his mind and wouldn’t have done something like this if he was. They talked about the spiritual upbringing they had with their father and if he could, he would tell his kids to forgive him (CNN).
What an incredible example! Sometimes we have trouble forgiving people for much less impactful sins against us. It’s important to remember Jesus’ very clear words, “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions” (Matthew 6:14-15).
Let’s follow Jesus example when He was being crucified on the cross and yet still spoke, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Let’s follow Stephen’s example when he was being stoned and yet still cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” (Acts 7:60). Let’s follow the example of the Godwin family.
Hopefully, we will never have to be faced with a situation where we need to forgive a murderer, but no matter what the situation is, great or small, let’s forgive. After all, God has forgiven us of such and enormous spiritual debt, certainly we can forgive others for much smaller things (Matthew 18:21-35).