This week we have looked at forgiveness. In my life I have had to forgive people for their wrongdoings towards me and I can say that it is hard, and it is costly. When we forgive, we lay down our rights to justice or something else valuable. It helps me to think that the punishment has already been paid. It helps me to forgive when I reflect on how much I’ve been forgiven on the cross for my own sins. Ultimately, I haven’t been able to do it in my own strength, I have needed God’s strength to truly forgive them. Consider the following testimony from Corrie Ten Boom:
It was at a church service in Munich that I saw him, the former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing centre at Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers I had seen since that time. And suddenly it was all there – the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie’s pain-blanched face.
He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. “How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein,” he said. “To think that, as you say, he has washed my sins away!”
His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendall about the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.
Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? “Lord Jesus,” I prayed, “forgive me and help me forgive him.”
I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And again I breathed a silent prayer. “Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me your forgiveness.”
As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm, and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.
So I discover that it is not our forgiveness any more than our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on him. When he tells us to love our enemies, he gives, along with the command, the love itself.
Petrina Rangiawha – Creek Road Campus