By now, all the world has heard about all they want to hear concerning Mr. Donald Sterling, the owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers. In a phone conversation he thought was private, his so called girl friend who is young enough to be his granddaughter taped it and later revealed it publicly. In it, Mr Sterling was caught making some very racist remarks and was promptly removed as an owner by the NBA, at least for the time being. This past Monday morning, I caught a few minutes of a national TV sports talk show where they asked two panelists if they were willing to forgive Mr. Sterling after he somewhat apologized and asked for forgiveness. They both emphatically said no. I, of course, expected they would reply that way and also suspected that they responded as such because they felt that would be the popular answer with their audience. This mindset is not new. In fact, that’s what happened long ago with Pilate. After he declared that he had found no fault in the accused Jesus, the Christ, he nevertheless wilted under pressure to what he thought was the general public opinion and was the one mainly responsible for Jesus being beaten and then crucified. He was afraid to go against the flow just like many people are in today’s controversial issues.
Nevertheless, the matter I want to address today is the subject of forgiveness. I suppose that old, spoiled billionaires are among the least liked by the general masses and the least likely to sympathize with, thus the public outcry against the apparently racist Mr. Sterling. Even so, the question asked the sports talk show panelists was not “do you agree with Mr. Sterling” or “do you think he should be allowed to be an NBA owner” or “do you accept his apology” or even “do you dislike or hate him”? No, the question was “are you willing to forgive him?” Humanly speaking, one can say that he does not deserve to be forgiven, but think about this: Did any of us who were forgiven and saved by the Lord deserve it? Does anybody? The truth is that no human being has the right to deny forgiveness to anyone, including those who have not asked for it. That’s just like building our own jail and detaining someone in it when we have no legal right to do it. God is the only One who can give or deny forgiveness, not us.
If we deny forgiveness to someone, we are going against God’s command. In Mark 11:25, Jesus said: And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. In other words, if we don’t forgive others their trespasses God won’t forgive ours. We don’t have to like what others do; we can even dislike them personally, (as long as we don’t hate them) but to deny forgiveness to anyone, that we cannot do. Don’t fall into the devil’s trap.
Memory Verse for the week: (Hebrews 10:23) Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.