7. I Hope I'm Standing Close By When God Judges Clyde!

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By Bill Edwards of Madison, Alabama sent us this article by Joe Cope, J.D.,
Executive Director of the Center for Conflict Resolution at ACU]

 

Most of you don't know about Clyde Thompson. A friend of mine, Don Umphrey, wrote the story of his life. Titled it the "Meanest Man in Texas" or something like that. Seems Clyde killed a man and went to prison. And while in prison he killed several more. He was so feared that they locked him in the prison morgue in solitary confinement for years. Not wanting to provide him with potential weapons, prison officials forced him to eat with his hands. He would wake at night to the tickling sensation of roaches and mice eating the crumbs and grease from his fingers.

But something happened to Clyde. He found Jesus in that morgue. Studied the Bible by correspondence. Even married the woman who dutifully sent those courses. And emerged from prison a changed man. When I met him, he was a minister to prisoners touching hundreds of hearts with the saving message of Christ.

I hope I'm standing close by when God judges Clyde. I want to see the expression on the faces of those around him when the story of his life is told. I want to feel the sense of justice and indignation rise as they hear of the men he killed. And I want to hear the incredible gasp that will escape their lips when pardon is granted.

For it's not the way of our world to look past a single, glaring mistake and certainly not a multitude of errors. Yet, that's what God will do for those who seek Him.

I sit with people on a regular basis who want to judge someone else based on a single act. It doesn't seem to matter what good they have one or what amends have been made. One wrong is sufficient to condemn. And nothing will ever change that position.

The biggest barrier to getting along with others is the inability to forgive. Don't get me wrong. I believe that consequences should follow our actions. Penalties and punishments are appropriate consequences. Withholding forgiveness is not.

"Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, 'Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?'" "Jesus answered . . . " Well, you know what Jesus answered (Matthew 18:21-22,NIV).

 

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