The Power of Forgiveness

We must learn to forgive others.

Why? Because as flawed people, we will hurt one another, be it intentional or unintentional.

Husbands will offend wives, and wives will offend husbands. Parents will hurt their children, and children will hurt their parents. Family members will offend one another.

That is why we must learn to forgive.

Jesus said, "So if you are standing before the altar in the Temple, offering a sacrifice to God, and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there beside the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God" (Matthew 5:23–24 NLT).

Taking the hand of your enemy

In my last post, I began to tell the story of Corrie Ten Boom. Incidentally, I recommend that you read her amazing autobiography, The Hiding Place. Her story was also made into a movie of the same name by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

After surviving the Nazi concentration camp at Ravensbrück, Corrie traveled the world, ministering to people.

She tells this story in The Hiding Place:

It was 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 center at Ravensbrück. He was the first of our actual jailers that 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 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 to 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 so 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 into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.

And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world's healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.

An example to follow

Corrie Ten Boom gave us an example to follow. The example of forgiving people, whether we feel they deserve it or not.

One final thought. When you forgive a person, you set a prisoner free . . . yourself!