Have you thought of learning from people who demonstrated forgiveness examples in life and the Bible? Get ready to learn valuable lessons and enjoy the many benefits and blessings.
Forgiveness is one of the hardest virtues of life. Practically it takes a lot of courage and compassion to forgive someone. While many Strive to find reasons to forgive their haters or offenders, people like Nelson Mandela and Jackeline Saborido have given us perfect examples of forgiveness. I’m not leaving out the exemplary life of Jesus Christ and other Biblical characters who taught us about the practical ways to forgive others.
Before I take you through some great examples of forgiveness, let’s find out what it really means to forgive.
What Is The Meaning Of Forgiveness?
By definition, in general terms, forgiveness is a conscious and deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.
That’s a very good definition to help everyone understand what we are going to deal with right here. It’s very hard to release that resentment or vengeance but in doing so —you gain a lot of benefits; spiritually and scientifically.
Science says forgiveness rewards your health by lowering the risk of heart attack; improving cholesterol levels and sleep; it again helps in reducing pain, blood pressure, and levels of anxiety, depression, and stress. So it has some therapeutic benefits for the entire body.
“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” —Nelson Mandela
Some Notable Examples Of Forgiveness
A couple of people have practically given good examples of forgiveness. Let me share a few with you.
1. Jacqueline Saburido
Jackie was a Venezuelan activist, a burn survivor who campaigned against drunk driving after being a victim of an accident.
Jacqueline Saburido was the only child of her parent with the hopes of working hard to support the family by making her dreams come true.
Her story of forgiveness goes like this; In 1999, Saburido sustained 60% of burns on her body after a car crash.
Together with her friends, they attended a birthday party near Austin, Texas. After a few hours, they accepted a ride home from a classmate.
While on the way, a reckless driver named Reginald Stephey, who had been drinking beforehand crashed into the car of Saburido and her friends.
The driver and one passenger of the vehicle she was in were killed, other passengers got injured; of the three survivors, Saburido was the only one trapped in the car when it caught fire. She was entrapped in the flames…
She was just 19 years —a beautiful young woman. Unfortunately, she lost her hair, ears, nose, lips, left eyelid, and much of her vision. She sustained second to third-degree burns.
In an attempt to reconstruct the damages —she underwent more than 120 surgeries including cornea transplants to restore her left eye.
After Reginald Stephey’s conviction and trial he met Saburido for the first time and you know what she said to him?
Stephey “destroyed my life completely”, but forgave him.
In a shocking response, Stephey later said:
“What sticks out in my mind is, ‘Reggie, I don’t hate you.’ It’s really touching someone can look you in the eyes and have that much compassion after all that I have caused.”
Even after Stephey was released from prison, Saburido did not resent; she still said words of forgiveness wanting him to reconstruct his life.
This is a real example of forgiveness in life. It takes a lot of love, compassion, courage, and understanding to forgive everyone —even those who don’t deserve it.
Saburido had been an inspirational person for many(billions of people around the world). She came out as an activist against drunk driving until she died on 20th April 2019.
2. Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela, the South African leader was arrested and imprisoned in 1962. His arrest led to life imprisonment for conspiring to overthrow the incumbent government.
Mandela served 27 years in prison, split between Robben Island, Pollsmoor Prison, and Victor Verster Prison. After serving those long years in prison, President F. W. de Klerk released him in 1990.
After prison, Mandela became the first black president of South Africa. That was an opportunity to avenge those whose hands are in his imprisonment. But he rather sought forgiveness, unity, and national development
Mandela, as leader of the ANC, was inaugurated on 10 May 1994 as the country’s first Black President, with the National Party’s F.W. de Klerk as his first deputy and Thabo Mbeki as the second in the Government of National Unity.
According to Desmond Tutu, Mandela’s imprisonment helped him become a better leader by learning how to turn enemies into friends.
It also gave him unassailable credibility. “When you speak of forgiveness, 27 years in prison sets you up very nicely,” he said.
There is a popularized story about Mandela’s act of forgiveness citing that he invited one prison guard who used to maltreat him in prison for dinner when he became president.
Reports say —that story has no sources of credibility so it is more like a fabricated story. Although it presents a very good example of forgiveness. SA’s national archives of Mandela’s quotes say they have no records of such events. There hasn’t also been any reliable source to prove it.
Forgiveness Examples In The Bible
Christians cannot escape the teachings of Jesus Christ concerning forgiveness. Just like Peter who wanted some guarantee of vengeance. He ate the humble pie when Jesus said he should forgive his trespassers seventy-seven times seven.
There are people or Bible characters who demonstrated acts of forgiveness. Let’s take a look at a few of them here.
1. Jesus Christ
The Messiah himself taught us about forgiveness and gave us an exemplary life. If a Christian truly wants to follow Jesus then he must be forgiving. There is a stern warning from the Bible to anyone who refuses to forgive his offenders. (Matthew 6:15)
Even when his enemies nailed him on the cross, he prayed for them and asked for forgiveness from the Father.
“He (Jesus) knew that the old eye-for-eye philosophy would leave everyone blind. He did not seek to overcome evil with evil. He overcame evil with good. Although crucified by hate, he responded with aggressive love.” —Martin Luther King Jr.
Stephen as a disciple of Jesus Christ who was full of faith and the Holy Spirit was handed over to the Jewish leaders to be persecuted for doing nothing wrong than to speak out the truth.
These men stoned him to death. Even in his agony of pain, he asked for forgiveness for them.
“Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” —Acts 7:60
3. Parable Of The Prodigal Son
Jesus in his teachings sometimes used parables to demonstrate how to please God or live godly lives.
He taught his disciple about what a good example of forgiveness should be. This parable of the prodigal son is also known as the parable of the compassionate father. (Luke 15:11 – 32)
It says the father’s younger son demanded his portion of his wealth… He traveled into a different country; squandered the money and everything. He shamefully returned home after finding life unbearable.
He received a warmly welcome from his father and was given the best treatment (feasting). His father forgave him —although he did not deserve that love and forgiveness.
4. Joseph Forgave His Wicked Brothers
In the Book of Genesis, the Bible accounts of how Joseph forgave his elder brothers who sold him out to be a slave in Egypt. They hated him for no good reason.
What happened in the end? God blessed Joseph in the land of Egypt. His brothers were in dire need of help. They unknowingly fell in the hand of Joseph but he never avenged himself. Joseph showed an act of forgiveness by helping them at no cost. (Genesis 50:12 – 21)
5. Jacob And Esau
The story of Esau, the son of Isaac, and twin brother Jacob could be found in Genesis 25:1-34.
Esau being the elder of the two, was therefore legally the heir, but sold his birthright to his younger brother, Jacob.
The Bible talks about Esau’s loss of his father’s chief blessing. This resulted in a wave of anger plus jealousy against Jacob.
Esau’s turbulence and fierce anger to kill Jacob ended when Jacob sought reconciliation by asking for forgiveness in the most dramatic way. (Genesis 27:1-46 and Genesis 32:1-33:20)
They finally reconciled and lived peacefully. These two people or brothers have given Christians an example of Bible forgiveness and how it helps bring love, unity, and development among each other. They both flourished in prosperity in distant lands.
Finally, it is a good thing to learn how to forgive others —irrespective of the degree of the harm. It is what makes one a good Christian.
It’s quite unfortunate that some Christians still move around with the spirit of unforgiveness. That spirit is not of God but the devil. It is time to take note of these forgiveness examples and replicate them. Enjoy the many blessings and benefits.