Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2010
Scripture: Romans 6; 1 John 1:8-2:1
It is possible to be so moved by God’s goodness that we walk away from sin. It happened to a man in Pompano Beach, Florida last week—and it made national headlines.1
Twenty-year-old Nayara Goncalves, manger of a MetroPCS cell phone store, was working when a man dressed in black attempted to rob the store at gunpoint. A surveillance camera captured the entire exchange between the two.
The robber pretended to be interested in a phone, but then showed Gonclaves a gun and nervously asked her to hand over all the money in her cash register. He told her not to be afraid, and added, “I really hate to do this.”
Remarkably, Goncalves wasn’t afraid. In fact, she began to witness to the robber. She later admitted that she doesn't know why she began to talk to him about Jesus. “I would never be able to do that myself. I would never think that God could use me the way that he did,” she later said.
As she slowly started walking toward her cash register, Gonclaves told the man that she wasn’t afraid. “I’m just going to talk to you about the Jesus I have,” she told him.
“What?” asked the surprised robber.
“The Jesus I got, before you leave,” she answered.
“God bless you for that,” he said, as he slumped on the counter. “Just know in mind that I absolutely hate doing this... I'm embarrassed I have to do this and I have no choice.”
But Goncalves was determined to show him that he did have a choice. And the more she boldly talked to him about God, the more defeated-looking he became. “Jesus got something way better for you,” she assured him. “I don't know what you are going through, but all of us are going through a hard time right now.”
Although the robber claimed to be a Christian himself, and clearly felt guilty for robbing the store, he told Gonclaves that he still had to because he needed $300 or he and his family would be evicted. It wasn’t until she showed him the money and told him that what he stole would come out of her paycheck, that he changed his mind. “I don't want to do that to you,” he said. “I'm sorry. I'm sorry.”
But before he had the chance to leave, Goncalves pleaded with him to think about what he’d almost done, and to get back in touch with God. “Jesus helps you, he can change your life. Go back to church. Find a job. Get real friends in church. Talk to a pastor, they can pray for you. You don't need to do this, Jesus is coming soon,” she told him.
He revealed to Gonzales that his weapon was merely a BB gun. Before he walked out the door he told her, “You know one thing? Good will be coming your way for what you did today. You have a good day and God bless you.”
After the would-be robber left, Goncalves began to cry. She was relieved and awed at what had just taken place. “I realized what had just happened, what could have happened if God wasn't here with me,” she said. “I really hope I planted a little seed in his heart.”
Each time we are tempted to sin, we have a choice. Romans 6:14 says, “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” Sin does not have to control us against our will. Our part is described in Romans 6:12: “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.” We keep it from reigning by staying close to Jesus and turning from temptations when they come. And Jesus part is described in Romans 5:20: “But where sin increased, grace increased all the more….”
Paul says that if we choose, we are no longer slaves to sin. He says that the payment for sin is death, but that through Jesus—and Jesus alone—God offers the gift of eternal life. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Who could reject such gift”?