C.R. Mooney

Martin Luther King Jr. on Forgiveness

by on Jan.22, 2013, under Spirituality

Copyright AP Photo/PL

Rev. Martin Luther King with Harlem Hospital's Dr. Emil A. Naclerio. AP Photo/PL

On September 20, 1958, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was nearly assassinated. At a book signing, Izola Curry stabbed Rev. King in the chest with a steel letter opener. It was reported the next morning that it was so close to his aorta that if he’d have sneezed it would have killed him (source).

I cannot imagine what I would feel toward that woman those five days in recovery, but I can give you the words of Rev. King one month later.

“I am deeply sorry that a deranged woman should have injured herself in seeking to injure me. I can say, in all sincerity, that I bear no bitterness toward her and I have felt no resentment from the sad moment that the experience occurred…

“And finally, as I indicated before, the experience I had in New York gave me time to think. I believe that I have sunk deeper the roots of my conviction that nonviolence {non-violent} resistence is the true path for overcoming injustice and for stamping out evil. (source)”

Incredible. Not only does he forgo any sympathy toward his injury, he focuses on his concern for the woman that tried to drive a letter opener through his heart! Sometimes I have a hard time forgiving my own family of petty differences and incidents, yet this great man did not hold a single ounce of malice toward a woman who tried to end his life. He did not even press charges against her and instead encouraged her to seek treatment.

And then I consider the words of Jesus, “But if you don’t forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 6:15 CEV)” Wow, really? Is God saying that harboring unforgiveness separates me from him? And I see Jesus hanging on the cross looking down at the people screaming obscenities at him while demanding that he prove his claims, at the soldiers with blood splattered hammers in-hand gambling for his clothes while he gasps for air. Then I hear those final words, “Father forgive them.”

I’m left empty, praying. “God help me to be like that. Help me to let go of any debt I feel others owe me because of the pain they’ve caused and truly forgive them. And not only to forgive them but show them love and compassion.”

I’ll leave you with these words from Rev. King and a challenge. Who has wronged you that you have been unwilling to forgive? Now take the time this moment and truly forgive them.

“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”

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3 comments for this entry:
  • Jason Clement

    Good stuff man! Sometimes the words “It’s OK” or “I forgive you” just slip out easily… the hard part is living up to it!

  • Brian Corcoran

    Naked truth of submission to the Word!

  • http://www.crmooney.com C.R. Mooney

    So true guys. Thanks for your comments.

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