Matthew 18:15 (NLT)
15 If your brother sins against you, go and tell him what he did without other people hearing it. If he listens to you, you have won your brother back again.

This verse begins Jesus teaching on how to respond to another when a sin is committed. The first act is to go in love hoping the matter can be resolved privately and peacefully in order that the relationship can be maintained. We must remember that we too are subject to the same failures as another so we must temper our acts accordingly. We must also be willing to forgive so as not to harbor bitterness in our hearts that can lead to our own sin.

When Shannon Ethridge was just 16 years old, an act of forgiveness and love changed her life forever. While driving to her high school one day, Ethridge ran over Marjorie Jarstfar, a woman who was riding her bicycle along a country road. Marjorie died as a result, and Ethridge, who was found completely at fault by authorities, was consumed by intense guilt. She contemplated suicide several times, but she never took her life because of the healing response of one man: Gary, Jarstfar's husband.

Gary forgave the 16-year-old and asked the attorney to drop all charges against her, saving her from a probable guilty verdict. Instead, he simply asked that Ethridge continue on in the godly footsteps that his wife had taken. "You can't let this ruin your life," Gary told her more than 20 years ago. "God wants to strengthen you through this. In fact, I am passing Marjorie's legacy on to you."

Gary's act of forgiveness showed Ethridge the amazing love of God. Today, Ethridge is the bestselling author of Every Girl's Battle and Every Woman's Battle, and her recent book, Completely His: Loving Jesus Without Limits, helps women overcome guilt-ridden, wounded lives. [Van Morris, Mount Washington, Kentucky; source: Kevin Jackson, "Christian Author Carries Mantle of the Woman She Killed," (6-21-07)]

Shannon felt remorse for her actions to the point she was ready to take her own life, but grace and mercy came from the husband of the woman who had been killed. There was no way to get back the life of his wife, but the husband could direct the life of another in a positive way. He could have been bitter towards her, but it would have been his own prison to ensure. Instead he chose mercy and forgiveness for Shannon. Gary's act of grace and forgiveness showed Shannon the amazing love of God and changed her life forever.

Grace, grace, God's grace, grace that will pardon and cleanse within; grace, grace, God's grace, grace that is greater than all our sin!