Having been convicted of murdering Botham Jean, a member of the Dallas West church of Christ, the last thing Amber Guyger probably expected to hear at her sentencing were the words “I forgive you” from a member of the victim’s family.
After reading a statement which expressed forgiveness and even a wish that she wouldn’t have to go to jail, Jean’s brother Brandt asked the judge for permission to give Guyger a hug. The dramatic scene was recorded on video and shared throughout the world via television and internet.
“I wasn’t going to say this in front of my family or anyone, but I don’t even want you to go to jail,” Brandt said. “I want the best for you, because I know that’s what Botham would want … and the best would be to give your life to Christ. I love you as a person, and I don’t wish anything bad on you.”
In an era of sensationalism, exaggeration, and drama, this genuine act of selflessness and forgiveness cut through all of the political turmoil and self-aggrandizing celebrity crosstalk, and for one shining moment the focus was on what Christ can do in a person’s life. All of this because a Christian, even from the depths of despair, was able to forgive a person who seriously wronged them.
We don’t know what domino effect this act of forgiveness will have. The judge reacted to the scene by going to her chambers and returning with a Bible, giving it to Guyger. Will Guyger turn to the Lord? That’s something that remains to be seen. But the example Brandt Jean leaves should change and encourage us all, and for a moment the world was able to see true Christian forgiveness.
Christians often express a desire to have an impact on this world. There is no need for a grand gesture, however. Simple forgiveness will do, and it will send shockwaves throughout the world. Christian, forgive others.