Do we live out what we believe?
PHILADELPHIA - An Amish community that lost five girls in a Pennsylvania schoolhouse shooting massacre last year has donated money to the widow of the gunman.
The Nickel Mines Accountability Committee, which was set up to handle more than $4.3 million in donations from around the world after the shootings, said it had given an unspecified "contribution" to Marie Roberts, a mother of three.
Her husband, Charles Carl Roberts, a local milk truck driver who was not Amish, tied up and shot 10 Amish schoolgirls aged 6 to 14 in their classroom last Oct. 2, killing five of them before turning the gun on himself.
After the shootings, members of the deeply religious Amish community in Lancaster County about 60 miles west of Philadelphia, said they wanted to forgive the gunman.
In a statement released on behalf of the community, the committee said, "Many from Nickel Mines have pointed out that forgiveness is a journey, that you need help from your community of faith and from God ... to make and hold on to a decision not to become a hostage to hostility.
"It is understood that hostility destroys community," it said.
The Amish, descendants of Swiss-German settlers, eschew many aspects of modern life such as cars and telephones, and place particular importance on the principle of forgiveness.
Matthew 6:14-15 (NLT)
14 "If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
What does today's God's Story scripture teach us about forgiveness?
Jesus makes it real plain, even though it seems far from simple. If we don't forgive others, God won't forgive us. Why?
Because when we don't forgive others, we are acting as if we don't need God's forgiveness just as much as those who have sinned against us. God forgives us because of His mercy and grace. His forgiveness is not the direct result of us forgiving someone else, but it is based on our willingness to come clean and repent of our own sin.
Have you noticed that it is much easier to ask God to forgive us than it is to forgive others?
We know that Jesus forgave those who crucified Him. We believe what He taught about forgiveness. Are we living it? Abiding in Christ will make us want to forgive like Jesus forgives.
The updated story of the Amish giving money to the wife and children of the murderer who killed their loved ones in the school shootings is an amazing example of living out the words of Jesus.
How can we connect today's God's Story scripture to our lives?
Talk to God right now. Thank Him for His forgiveness for your sins through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. Confess the lack of forgiveness toward others in your own life. Ask His Spirit to empower you to stay so connected to Jesus every day that you will forgive others as Jesus does.
Whenever you ask God to forgive you of some sin, ask Him to remind you if you have forgiven someone who has wronged you?
Keep a written journal for two weeks and answer these three questions every day: (1) Was I willing to love others like Jesus? (2) Am I willing to forgive those who wronged me today? (3) Am I trusting God because He is in control, no matter what?
How can we connect today's story and God's Story and our story to others?
If someone needs your forgiveness, trust Jesus to give you the love you need to give it. If you need someone to forgive you, trust Jesus to give you the humility and courage you need to ask for it.
Use this incredible story of the Amish being willing to forgive the murderer and now give money to his family as a conversation starter with someone in your storysphere (circle of influence). It should help you learn the story of someone else and give you the opportunity to share part of your story.
Encourage your family, your small group, or your youth group to pray for the Amish community and the family of the murderer in Pennsylvania. Use this time to also pray for the need for your family or group to be able to forgive as Jesus forgives.
This week the DailyBide is examining the key attitudes and actions in personal relationships. Forgiveness is key to knowing God and long-lasting relationships.
Charles Johnson took his problem right to the top. He was scheduled to lose his house in foreclosure to his mortgage lender, Bank of America last week. It would have put him and family (six children) out on the street with no place to live. So Charles boldly called the president of Bank of America, one of largest national banks, for a personal appointment. To his great surprise the bank president agreed to meet with him.
According to an unnamed bank source, at the conclusion of the appointment, the bank president was moved by Charles Johnson's desperate situation and forgave the outstanding, overdue debt of $483,686 owed on the Johnson family mortgage.
In this time of increasing foreclosures, this forgiveness of a substantial mortgage is a remarkable act of compassion and mercy by a major financial institution. A family facing the loss of their home was saved from homelessness..
In a strange turn of events later that same day, Charles Johnson was arrested outside a convenience store near his home and charged with attempted assault on a man who Johnson said owed him $75. Eyewitnesses said Johnson was very angry and threatening violence while demanding payment from a former co-worker. They had worked together at a local Management Corporation until they were both laid off last November. No further details about Johnson and the alleged victim are available at this time.
32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (ESV)
What does today's God's Story Scripture teach us about forgiveness?
Today's story is as old as Jesus. He told it to let us know how ridiculous it is to not forgive others when we have been forgiven for everything we have ever done or ever will do. If we do not forgive, we will not be forgiven. God's command is absolute and crystal clear.
Forgiveness is something we decide to do. It is unconditional, not based
on behavior or how often we ask for it. It is not granted or withheld
according to the severity of the offense or limited to a certain number of
requests. While we may want to add conditions to forgiveness that make
sense to us, God adds none. He says in all situations, at all times---he
forgives and he commands us to forgive.
Like Charles Johnson (a.k.a. you and me) it is hypocritical not to forgive.
As God loves and forgives us, we love and forgive others. If we don't
forgive we hurt ourselves as much as we hurt the person we refuse to
forgive. Holding on to a grudge and unforgiveness is like letting a person
live inside your head rent free.
How can we connect my story to God's Story Scripture?
Forgiveness is the major link between you and God. Nothing makes a relationship stronger than to know that all mistakes have been forgiven. The walls of separation between you and God are torn down and obliterated when you understand God's unconditional forgiveness.
Forgiveness from God is the life blood of a Christian. It is acceptance, freedom and motivation. It is unspeakable joy and security—nothing can separate us from the love of God.
Write your own song of praise to God for the remarkable, undeserved, unconditional forgiveness and love given to you.
Live in freedom and forgiveness. Show it and share it.
How can we connect today's story and God's Story and our story to their story?
Psychologists tell us that most of the troubled people in the world are desperately searching for forgiveness. It's what everyone needs. God's Story is unforgettable and unmatched when his only son willingly gives his own life to purchase forgiveness for the whole world.
- Tell God's story with passion and enthusiasm. It will sweep away feelings of doubt, fear and condemnation in all who hear and believe.
- Demonstrate the freedom God gives us when we forgive others completely as he forgives us.
- Find songs and stories about God's forgiveness to share with your friends. Invite them to experience it for themselves.