It’s been said that you don’t forgive someone for his or her sake – you forgive them for your sake.
Is that our best option?
Much has been written recently about Coach Monty Williams and the intentional forgiveness he extended to a negligent driver whose actions killed Williams’ wife and injured their children. The driver was speeding at 92-mph in a 40-mph zone just before clipping another vehicle and slamming head-first into Ingrid Williams’s vehicle.
What would you say if someone you loved was ripped away?
Monty Williams offered this perspective:
“Everybody’s praying for me and my family, which is right. But let us not forget that there were two people in this situation. And that family needs prayer as well. And we have no ill will toward that family. In my house, we have a sign that says, ‘As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.’ We cannot serve the Lord if we don’t have a heart of forgiveness.”
Williams later added, “When we walk away from this place today, let’s celebrate, because my wife is where we all need to be, and I’m envious of that — but I got five crumb-snatchers I have to deal with.”
Mainstream news outlets including Sports Illustrated, ESPN, The New York Post and NBC Sports have not held back on quoting Monty’s clear declaration of faith and invitation to let the family of the driver know they are loved and embraced.
Only…this isn’t the first time Monty Williams has had the opportunity to lash out but instead chose something deeper.
In his last season of life he coached the New Orleans Pelicans into the NBA playoffs. It was the first time in four years that they’d experienced this opportunity, and yet two weeks in they were eliminated. Monty was surprisingly fired.
What would you say if something you loved was ripped away?
“I’m so indebted…I don’t have any bitterness in my heart…I’m a bit hurt, a bit stuffed up but God has always been in control of my life and I’m so blessed to have done what I’ve done here…I can’t just agree with [my boss] on the things that favor me and disagree with him on the things that disfavor me…Romans 8:28 is in my heart: ‘All things work out for people who are called by Jesus Christ.’ And I am certainly hurt, knocked down a little bit, but God’s brought me through too much to complain and be bitter.”
Today, if not this week, if not this season of life…
you will likely experience something hard.
Maybe it will involve something difficult that happens to your family.
Perhaps you will feel mistreated by your church.
I’m not sure our best action step is merely to forgive someone so we feel better.
You know that one passage we often quote when only a few individuals show up to a church event?
“For where two or three gather in My name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20)
That’s not a verse about attendance.
It’s right in the middle of an entire chapter regarding reconciliation, confession, confrontation, grace, mercy and forgiveness.
When we choose to come together with grace versus pull away with seemingly justifiable anger, Jesus is on display.
As one basketball player put it,
“I have to say in a world of negativity and you look on the news or yahoo, it’s like Kardashians and all this stupid stuff that is pointless and means nothing. All of sudden Monty’s video is getting some press and it’s getting to people hearts. People are learning about things that’s more important on what we focus on for a day-to-day basis.”
God’s promises are always real, but they will only become real to you and others if you’re walking in them in the moments you don’t yet need them. All the in-the-trenches time you spend with Jesus can come out of you in those moments when you and others don’t immediately see Jesus.
It’s likely you are going to need to forgive someone soon or go further with an individual you’ve already forgiven who does yet another thing that requires a response.
You don’t have to sidestep your emotions, nor do you need to try to forget what’s occurred.
What you can do (as the old song suggests) is turn your eyes on Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace…
so that you can be (as Jesus suggests) “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world.”
I’m sorry to be so candid on this topic, but chances are you or someone you know need to read this… if not for today, for “tomorrow.”
Where are you at with this?
How can we pray for you?
– Tony / @TonyMyles