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Would You Forgive Bernie Madoff?

June 18, 2009

Mr. Madoff has committed a crime against humanity considering all the lives he has wrecked along with charities he destroyed.  He should be made to pay for his wicked deeds.” 

He ought to be able to look forward to just exactly what he has done to us. No hope, no future, and no forgiveness”

These are just two small quotes from the 113 Victim Impact statements recently released in the Bernard Madoff fraud case.

Madoff Mug Shot

Madoff Mug Shot

Bernard Madoff  is the infamous stock broker behind the largest Ponzi scheme every constructed.   It doesn’t take long to hear the utter devastation while reading through these statements.  

You can feel the hurt, pain and loss faced by these victims.  Most had to totally change their lifestyles and many of them lost all of their life savings and are now left to live on Social Security only. 

Elie Wiesel, the concentration camp survivor, Nobel Prize winner and Madoff victim said he could never forgive him.  “We thought he was God, we trusted everything in his hands,” said Wiesel.  

Speaking to a panel assembled by the Conde Nast’s Portfolio Magazine back in February, he went on to talk about Madoff’s punishment  “I would like him to be in a solitary cell with a screen, and on that screen, for at least five years of his life, every day and every night there should be pictures of his victims, one after the other after the other, always saying, ‘Look, look what you have done to this poor lady, look what you have done to this child, look what you have done.’ 

Elie Wiesel

Elie Wiesel

After reading through a couple of these statements I began to wonder what my attitude would be towards Madoff had this happened to me or to my parents or others I loved.  

I cannot imagine the feelings of total deception these victims feel after having trusted someone with their life savings and realizing they were being lied to for years and finding out that everything they worked so hard for was gone. 

How about you?  How would you feel as a victim of one of the greatest Ponzi schemes ever? 

Now, what if  Bernie Madoff apologized for what he did, was truly repentant and wanted to make restitution if he could, would you forgive him? 

Or would you respond like Elie Wiesel and some of the other victims who could never find it in themselves to forgive? 

1154703_crossI hope I could live out Ephesians 5:32, which says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you”, but I know it is much easier to say that than it is to practically live it out while going through that situation. 

Perhaps if we realized the seriousness of our own sin and the depth of God’s grace and forgiveness through Jesus we could find it easier to forgive others who have wronged us – even if we lost our life savings.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Tim Hall permalink
    June 19, 2009 6:44 pm

    Thought provoking! It’s hard enough to forgive someone of something small and insignificant, let alone someone who has stolen everything. I guess it goes back to your post about the lottery….if your treasure is stored up on earth it’s a pretty crushing thing. Great blog keep it up!!

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