The Power of Forgiveness #BothamJean

On September 6, 2018 the church lost a brother and a friend. His name was
Botham Jean and he was killed while sitting at home eating ice cream. His killer was a police
officer named Amber Guyger that mistakenly walked into the wrong apartment. She was later
found guilty of murder and during her sentencing something unexpected happened. Brandt
Jean, Botham’s brother, asked to hug Amber. The media and social media was surprised that someone would hug the killer of his brother.

It was shocking to see so many people with so much larceny in their hearts. The
comments ranged from “kill her” to “Brandt is a fool”. The saddest part of these type of
comments is they came from other Christians. One thing Brandt knew was Christians must
display godly forgiveness: “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one
another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32). Brandt had a choice to
make either to forgive the killer of his brother or hold on to bitterness, angry and seek
vengeance.

Forgiveness is described by Merriam-Webster as the intentional and voluntary process by
which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, and
overcomes negative emotions such as resentment and vengeance. Growing up in the Oak
Cliff neighborhood of Dallas, there were many incidents witnessed of vengeance and
retaliation. Many people have the mentality of eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth. There
should be a difference between the world and Christians. In fact, we are admonished to have
a different response in terms of forgiveness: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and
clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice” (Eph. 5:31).

Knowing Botham and Brandt were raised to live a godly life, it was easy to understand
the reaction of Brandt. What good would it do the family to harbor ill-will toward the
convicted killer? How would holding on to this negative experience help them in their walk with God? God has a way of turning a bad situation into something that glories Him and His
church. Throughout the trial the church of Christ was mentioned many times as Botham’s
parents explained how they raised their children in the Lord.

The reaction of Brandt hugging Amber and making the statement: “I just want the best
for her” went viral. Blogs, radio shows, and internet based shows were all talking about the
forgiveness this young man exuded during this challenging time. It was such a display of
godly love that many began to ask, how is this even possible. The world may look at a
situation as terrible, but the Lord can find a way to make the terrible situation into a beautiful
testimony. Before the trial, Amber stated she never heard of the church of Christ, but now she
is in correspondence with Brandt Jean learning more about the body of Christ.

During the sentencing phase Amber asked Brandt and the family to forgive her and
Brandt acted upon godly advice: “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly
Father will also forgive you. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your
Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt. 6:14-15). The act of forgiveness shined a light on
God’s glorious church and provided an opportunity to gain a sister in Christ. For Brandt and
the family the act of forgiveness granted them much peace, allowing them to sleep at night. Forgiveness is good for the offender, good for the offended, and good for others that witnessed the events.

Brandt’s reaction could save him from years of depression, malice and
vengeance. We can begin the process of reconciliation once a person opens their heart to
forgive. I am grateful to have known Botham, glad to know Brandt and I pray Amber Guyger
is obedient to the gospel and is saved.

There are many times we may commit an offense against God, yet we constantly ask to
be forgiven. We must exhibit that same level of forgiveness and not let one offense turn us
away from God. If we can display a forgiving heart we can help shine the light on the Lord’s church. Thank God for all the forgiveness he granted us and let us have the heart to forgive
others in our lives.

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