by Pastor Scott Godinez
Corrie ten Boom bravely hid Jews from Nazi forces during the years of the holocaust. At great risk to herself, her family helped many Jews escape. Eventually they were caught, arrested and sent to a concentration camp. Corrie’s father died only 10 days later, however she and her sister, Betsie, were forced to endure the cruelties of the concentration camp in Ravensbrück. Betsie died after several months.
Corrie ten Boom would go on to tell her story across the world and served as an evangelist preaching the necessity for forgiveness.
One day a shadowy face from the past met her after a speaking engagement in Germany. It was a guard she knew from Ravensbrück concentration camp.
He had complimented her speech and informed her that he had once been a guard at Ravensbrück but had now become a Christian and sought forgiveness from God. And now he extended his hand to ask for her forgiveness as well.
Corrie’s response is nothing short of astonishing:
And I, who spoken so glibly of forgiveness, fumbled in my pocketbook rather than take that hand. He would not remember me, of course–how could he remember one prisoner among those thousands of women?
But I remembered him and the leather crop swinging from his belt. It was the first time since my release that I had been face to face with one of my captors and my blood seemed to freeze….
And I stood there–I whose sins had every day to be forgiven–and could not. Betsie had died in that place–could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking?
It could not have been many seconds that he stood there, hand held out, but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.For I had to do it–I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. “If you do not forgive men their trespasses,” Jesus says, “neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”
And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion–I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.
“Jesus, help me!” I prayed silently. “I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.I forgive you, brother!” I cried. “With all my heart!
They may be no more challenging moment in our lives to offer good for evil, than when we are called upon to forgive another person. In that moment lies all our justification, all our bitterness, all our reason to rebuke and reject the vulnerable outstretched hand.
So why they does the Christian choose to forgive? Because Jesus when he hung on the cross for our sin, prayed for our forgiveness. Because Jesus has already forgiven us we have no authority or reason to not forgive any one else on this planet.
When you give good for evil in the context of forgiveness you are also inviting someone to know the reason for this unmerited grace: Jesus.
Show them Jesus! Show them how his forgiveness of your sin inspires your forgiveness for others! Show them how the forgiveness Jesus offers reconciles us to him for eternity! Show them the way of the Gospel through your gift of forgiveness.
This world is crying out for love, for redemption. In the hallway of life, may the Christian lead people to the door of Jesus Christ!
Your forgiveness will starve the bitterness in your heart and invite the offender to the foot of the cross!
If they desire the gift of your forgiveness, increase their joy by pointing them to the glories of knowing the greater forgiveness of Jesus!