Mandela - generosity is forgiveness

By Grant Owens | 12 December 2013

Mandela - generosity is forgiveness

 

It’s rare that South Africa contributes to the world stage. This week, though, South Africa is the world’s stage. From the UN General Assembly down to everyday citizens across the globe people are pausing to mourn the passing of Nelson Mandela.

In my heart, amidst the sorrow, I feel that this deep global respect is not just right but necessary. Yet my head asks “Why?” Why is it that Madiba should have carved a place so deeply in people’s hearts? It’s not that he led his people to freedom. Nearly all sub-Saharan countries can point to the man who led them out of colonial rule. It’s not that he was warm, witty and charismatic. Many politicians can claim that as can some second hand car salesmen.

Madiba not only freed his people from oppression, he forgave his oppressors. It is this forgiveness that resonates so deeply with the world. Understandably so. Forgiveness is as rare as it is valuable. We all need forgiveness. None of us in the quiet of our own reflection will claim to have treated everyone well. And we all need to forgive those around us. The reconciliation and wholeness on the other side of forgiveness is what we all desperately yearn for.

Yet forgiveness is hard. It requires a heart of extreme generosity. We all know how hard it is to forgive someone who has wronged us. Which is why we revere Nelson Mandela who forgave those who intentionally, systematically and brutally oppressed his people, his family and him. They attempted to destroy not only the fabric of his life but his very human dignity. They failed. “When I walked out of prison, that was my mission, to liberate the oppressed and the oppressor both” With a heart of extreme generosity he not only denied his oppressor victory, he shared his victory with them.

We will not likely get the opportunity to exercise such revolutionary social generosity. But people will hurt us, wrong us and fail us. In that spirit of generosity we too can forgive and offer reconciliation. And though we may not be people of Nelson Mandela’s stature, we have a God who was even more generous than Nelson Mandela. He was generous to us, giving us His son who gave up his life so that he could give us forgiveness. With that as a platform we too can be players on the world stage.

Read more like this:

No man is an island

Generous Children

Steadfast under trials - podcast from The Tron Church

 

photo used under Creative Commons Licence by tedeytan

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