“and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Matthew 6:12

Many of us will remember the horror of what happened on October 2, 2006, in an Amish one-room school in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. A mentally ill, suicidal man entered the school room and shot 10 school girls before shooting himself. Five of the girls died and this peaceful quiet religious community became the center of the nation’s focus, not only on the event but what happened subsequently. The Amish community forgave the shooter on the same day this occurred. They forgave not only in words but in deed by providing a meal for the family of the shooter. At the funeral service for this man, forty Amish showed up to love, nurture, and live out forgiveness. Money that poured in from around the world was given to the shooter’s family. The Amish response completely mystified and astounded the secular world. Sociologists came to do a study on why the Amish could forgive something so tragic, to find out that they live a life adhering to forgiveness because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.

They understand the magnitude of that cost for the sin of the world. “…forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32

That does not mean forgiveness is easy. Many of the Amish community have forgiven, but still deal with emotions that may not have caught up with the action of forgiveness. But forgiveness is ingrained in their character and to stay angry will be corrosive…so they return to the cross.

If we choose not to forgive, what are we saying? Could we be saying that Jesus’ shedding of His blood and the breaking of His body is not enough; it isn’t sufficient sacrifice for forgiveness to occur? John Walvoord, professor at Dallas Theological Seminary says this about the Matthew 6:12 passage:

“Though God’s forgiveness of sin is not based on one’s forgiveness of others, a Christian’s forgiveness is based on realizing he has been forgiven. Personal fellowship is in view in these verses. One cannot walk in fellowship with God if he refuses to forgive others.”

You and I must return to the cross and remember. Remember that ‘we were yet sinners’ when He died for us, remember what the cost was for us to be forgiven, remember when we received that forgiveness.

Meditation: Read slowly, prayerfully through Ephesians 4:32 and Matthew 6:12. What does the Holy Spirit impress on you? Is He telling you to ‘Return to the Cross’? How might that free you to deeper fellowship with the Lord?

Francie Overstreet

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