When is the right time for forgiveness?
Oscar Pistorius is accused of the premeditated murder of his girlfriend Ms Reeva Steenkamp. But it is an accusation he denies.
He is currently on bail and waiting for his court hearing later this year. Meanwhile, Ms Reeva Steenkamp’s father has said Pistorius would “suffer” if it turned out he was lying about how she died.
South Africa’s Beeld newspaper quoted Barry Steenkamp as saying Pistorius would have to “live with his conscience” if his assertion that he accidentally shot the 29-year-old is false.
He said: “There are only two people who really know what happened and it’s Oscar Pistorius and the Lord.
It does not matter how much money he has, or how good his legal team is, he must live with his conscience if he lets his lawyers tell lies on his behalf.
He will have to live with his conscience. But if he speaks the truth, I can perhaps someday forgive him.”
Barry Steenkamp said he would perhaps forgive Oscar someday. Of course we all know that the man is currently in pain and mourning the tragic loss of his daughter. However, if we take a closer look at the subject of forgiveness in general – can you really defer forgiveness? Can someone choose not to forgive today, but not rule out the possibility of forgiveness in the future?
I think we must note that Mr Steenkamp did not say he will never forgive Mr Pistorious. But, he said; that perhaps in the future he might forgive him.
What would Jesus do? The answers are in Psalm 86:5 and Ephesians 4:32.
“For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You” (Psalm 86:5).
“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
Notice the timing; that there is no delay in the offer of forgiveness. But, you might say, that was Jesus. Mr Steenkamp is only human. The scriptures strongly encourage us not to hold back forgiveness.
Should forgiveness depend on the repentance of the offender? You bet!
“Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him” (Luke 17:3-4).
The 26-year-old double amputee athlete known as the “Blade Runner” was released on one million rand (£73,000) bond.
When the long-awaited decision for bail came, the only man in the packed courtroom who did not seem seized by the moment was Oscar Pistorius himself. His family members smiled and joined in a circle of prayer. His friends leaped to their feet, punched the air and shouted “Yes!”
As part of his bail conditions, he must report to the police every Monday and Friday between 5am GMT and 11am GMT. He was also forced to surrender his passports, while he is banned from drinking alcohol, leaving Pretoria or returning to the house where Miss Steenkamp was killed.
He is due back in court on June 4. So maybe it’s not yet time to consider forgiveness. If he is found guilty and he repents of his sin, then maybe forgiveness should be offered by Mr Steenkamp; or perhaps you may disagree regarding the timing of forgiveness.
The current state of affairs is that the prosecutor’s charge is that Pistorius killed his girlfriend, 29-year-old model and law graduate Reeva Steenkamp, at his home in the early hours of Valentine’s Day in a premeditated killing.
The Olympic and Paralympic sprinter denies the charge, insisting that he repeatedly shot at Miss Steenkamp through a locked bathroom door in the dead of night after having mistaken her for a burglar.