On December 1, 1997, about a dozen students were gathered together for their daily prayer meeting at Heath High School in Paducah, Kentucky. As they said their final “Amen,” a 14-year-old boy suddenly walked up and opened fire on the group. Three of the students died, while five others were seriously wounded. The irony of the situation was that a number of these students had actually befriended this young man.
In the midst of this tragedy, an amazing story of forgiveness emerged. As she lay in the hospital, one of the injured girls—15-year-old Melissa Jenkins—was informed that she most likely would be a paraplegic for the rest of her life. Melissa wanted to convey a message to the teenage boy who shot her.
What do you think her message was? Did she say she hated him or that he would get his in the end? No. This is not what she had to say. This Christian teenage girl said she forgave him.
Only a Christian can do something like that. It is not a natural thing to do. Rather, it’s supernatural. That is one of the amazing things about true followers of Jesus: they have the capacity to forgive people.
Understand that if you are a Christian, then you—like Melissa Jenkins—need to learn how to forgive as well. In fact, to not forgive someone is an outright sin. If you don’t forgive a person who has sinned against you, then you are sinning against God. To say that you are a Christian, but that you refuse to forgive, is a contradiction in terms.
If you are an unforgiving Christian, then one must question how much you know about Christianity. Jesus constantly pressed this issue. His sermons, His parables, His private talks, even His prayers, were often filled with lessons about forgiveness. You would be blind to miss this point.