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Topic: Forgiveness
Scripture: Romans 12:21; 1 Corinthians 13:8, 13; Matthew 5:44-45; 1 Peter 3:9
Source: “Chris Singleton Opens Up About Losing Mother In Charleston Mass Shooting” by Maxwell Strachan, Posted HUFFINGTON POST, 06/19/2015
Author: Illustration Exchange

“Chris Singleton, whose mother, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, died during the shooting rampage in Charleston, South Carolina, on Wednesday [6/17/15], delivered a powerful message to the world on Thursday evening: No matter how much hate there is in the world, it’s no match for love,” reports the HUFFINGTON POST.

Singleton is a 2nd year baseball player at Charleston Southern University, a faith-based school affiliated with the South Carolina Baptist Convention. His coach and teammates stood beside him as he addressed reporters just hours after learning of his mother’s murder. “Love is stronger than hate,” said Singleton. “So if we just love the way my mom would, then the hate won’t be anywhere close to where the love is.”

Singleton’s mom was one of nine victims of shooter Dylann Roof who opened fire in a Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church where she was on the pastoral staff.

“We will get through it. Our church will get through it,” he said. “It’s tough times … Honestly, my knees are a little weak right now, but I’m trying to stay as strong as I can while I press on. … We are mourning right now, but I know we’ll get through it.”

Young Singleton later added, “We already forgive him for what he’s done, there’s nothing but love from our side of the family.”

REUTERS reported that family members of the other victims shared similar expressions of grace and forgiveness, even as they addressed the shooter via video feed at his initial bond hearing on Friday:

“I acknowledge that I am very angry,” said Bethane Middleton Brown, who said her slain sister, Middleton Doctor, would have urged love. “She taught me that we are the family that love built,” Middleton Brown said. “We have no room for hating, so we have to forgive.”

“I forgive you, my family forgives you,” said Anthony Thompson, whose relative Myra Thompson was killed. “We would like you to take this opportunity to repent. … Do that and you’ll be better off than you are right now.”

Alana Simmons, who lost her grandfather, the Rev. Daniel Simmons, said, “Although my grandfather and the other victims died at the hands of hate, this is proof — everyone’s plea for your soul is proof they lived in love and their legacies will live in love, so hate won’t win,” she said. ”

“I forgive you!” said the daughter of Ethel Lance. “You took something really precious from me. I will never talk to her ever again, I will never be able to hold her ever again but I forgive you!”

Application:

How different these responses are from the cries of angry mobs that we’ve heard echoing in riot filled streets in recent weeks and months in the wake of the deaths of Michael Brown and, most recently, Freddie Gray.

So what can account for the difference?

The responses above came from the hearts and lips of those who have, themselves, experienced the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.

They have responded to the call of Christ to forgive even as they themselves have been forgiven. They have responded to the call of Christ to love their enemies. They have responded to the call of Christ to overcome evil with good. They have responded to the call of Christ to bless those who have cursed them. They have responded to the call of Christ to bring the message of repentance and redemption to the same lost young man who delivered to them unthinkable loss.

Dylann Roof had hoped, by his brazen action, to ignite a race war. He had hoped to be the “hero” of his own hate-filled fantasy who would once and for all solidify division and enmity.

But his plan didn’t work. Dylann Roof targeted the wrong group of people.

If you want to sow seeds of hatred, don’t target a group of people who have chosen to answer the call of Christ on their lives. They are part of “the family that love built.” They have “no room for hating” in their lives, so “hate won’t win.” In the end, “there’s nothing but love.”

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21, NIV).

“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. … Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:8, 13, NLT).

“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:44-45, KJV).

“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9, NIV).

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