I want to begin by thanking the church for blessing us with the opportunity to attend Harding University’s Lectureship this past week. I was sitting in a chair in the Benson Auditorium as we prepared for the evening Lecture as we talked about the big news from the day. This news was about an off duty officer involved in a shooting. The young man’s name was Botham. He attended Harding my junior and senior years. He was a particularly nice young man who kept in touch with his family in St. Lucia. One of my fondest memories of Botham comes from a chapel where he led singing during “Struggles Week” in chapel. Botham spent the weekend on the phone with his learning the song Master the Tempest is Raging. When he got up Monday in chapel, he nailed that song, and as always you could see the love he had for God. He was willing to spend his free time to help others out. Botham always helped people.
Botham’s death was a tragedy. He was young, had a full life ahead of him, but it also could have been completely avoided. The lessons here comes from the reaction of Botham’s family. Toward the end, Botham’s younger brother asks the judge if he could give the off duty officer a hug, the same off duty officer who had taken the life of his brother a year earlier. The judge also gave the off duty officer a Bible. The message of the Word of God was passed along.
There are lots of emotions and feelings that could be felt during this whole time period. God had a few lessons for us all during this time. The one that sticks out to me is of forgiveness and grace. Botham’s brother gave a message of forgiveness and grace. He wanted the best for this person despite what had been done and wanted her to have the opportunity to learn about what Jesus Christ could do for her still. It made me think about the following.
Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” It is an easy choice for us to be bitter, or to be filled with wrath. It is easy to be mad at someone or about something. We can clamor and slander all day long. But along with malice, God has asked us to put those things away. Not just pushed to the side, but put away.
Instead of those things we are to be kind to one another, tenderhearted, and forgiving each other just as God has done for us. These things aren’t always easy, but they are what God has done for us. Imagine how our world would be if we were to be kind to each other, to be tenderhearted to those around us, and if we were to forgive each other like the examples Jesus has told us about and done for us. There is so much work to be done in these areas of our lives. Just because there is work to be done doesn’t mean that we can’t do it. The truth is that we can. We can be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving people just as Christ did for us.
There are a lot of lessons that can come from these recent events and lots of things that still need to be unpacked and looked at. The things I take away from this event is that God is greater. God is greater than the things around us, from the things that our eyes see, and is greater than any darkness around us. God has also showed us how to be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving people. My prayer for you this week is to take some time and look at your life. How can you be more kind this week? How can you be more tenderhearted? How can you be more forgiving this week? But where can you let God be a greater influence in your life?