An off-duty police officer was on a date enjoying his night off from work. Date night quickly switched to active duty when he spotted an attempted robbery. While trying to stop the robbery, the officer was shot in the chest.
Show the following video [1:49]:
Judge Shows Man Mercy
According to this newscast, the reason the judge gave Rodian Ortega—one of the accomplices—a light sentence of only six months in jail and five years on probation is his lack of criminal record and his “suitability for forgiveness.” Suitability in this case means what is appropriate or fitting for the person and the situation.
- What makes a person, or a person in a particular situation, “suitable for forgiveness”? (Answers will vary but may include: the person got dragged into someone else’s poor choices; the person is genuinely sorry; the person is young and made mistakes; in this case, the person is not the one who shot the gun. If anyone mentions that everyone is suitable for forgiveness all the time because of Jesus, accept but do not comment on the answer.)
At the hearing for the other accomplice, the officer said he does not hate the man but that he forgives him.
- What do you think went on in the officer’s mind and heart in order for him to reach the conclusion to forgive? (Possible answers may include: maybe he thought back to when he was young and would want another chance; maybe he felt joy to be alive and wanted to share that; maybe he felt the physical pain and was angry but genuinely cares about people; etc.)
- When you are in a situation where someone has wronged you, is it easy or difficult to forgive? Explain.
Rodian Ortega apologized and expressed gratitude for the light sentence. We do not know what he did after he left the court room. He may never commit a crime again. Or, he may go out and be part of another attempted robbery.
- If Ortega commits additional crimes, do you think he will be “suitable for forgiveness”? Why or why not? (Students may conclude that the first time was excusable, but if he does it again he deserves to pay; it depends on whether he was an accomplice or the one in charge; he might deserve one more chance, but then that’s it; we would want to be forgiven every time, so he should be forgiven, too; etc.)
- What is your response when someone you have forgiven repeats the same behavior after you forgave him or her the first time? (Your preteens may mention getting mad; deciding not to forgive this time; giving them “three strikes you are out,” etc.)
- After being forgiven by the police officer, how do you expect Ortega and the other accomplice to treat those who offend them? (Answers will vary; hopefully they will offer forgiveness.)
Forgiving others may sound easy, but in practice it can be difficult. When we are hurt, we may want the person who offended us to pay in some way for the pain we feel. Although it can be challenging, forgiveness is a vital part of a Christian’s life. In today’s lesson, we will get some insight into the importance of forgiveness.