Presidential pardons are political fuel because someone gets off the hook for something big. We like the idea of justice, especially when it comes to our enemies. To escape that, well, to escape that only serves to reinforce the self-serving interests of the parties involved. Unless, of course, you happen to be on the receiving end. Then, of course, there is the story of the pardoned fool.
In 1892, two men were found guilty of robbing the U.S. Mail and were sentenced to be hanged. One was executed, but the other had friends who pulled strings and obtained a pardon from President Andrew Jackson. He would have to serve his 20-year sentence, but there would be no hanging. Incredibly, and for reasons that remain unknown, George Wilson, refused the pardon. The Supreme Court got involved and decided that a pardon could not be forced on someone, so Wilson was eventually hanged.
He’s not alone.
While this story seems incredible, it is more incredible to know that it is far more common than we think. We all face the death sentence. All are offered a full pardon, yet almost everybody rejects it.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
While we may not know why George Wilson declined his presidential pardon, we do know the reason why we declines God’s.
“And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and the people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.” John 3:19-20
While George Wilson has gone down in history as the pardoned fool, you don’t need to have your name listed next to his. Your pardon is staring you right in the face. You earned your sentence. What will you do with your pardon? Laugh at it? Or will you ignore it? Perhaps you will even become angry because God offered it to you? Do you love your sin so much that you refuse to walk away from it?
"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Jesus (Matthew 4:17)
Don’t be a fool! Examine your life. Is sin worth your eternal soul? Hardly! While sin may be enjoyable in a season, righteousness is far better. But, you must be warned. As you well know, the world hates Jesus and those who follow him. That’s a fact. To be counted with him, you will be hated as well. Count the costs. As for me, I can assure you I have no regrets whatsoever.