Ephesians 4:32: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Corrie ten Boom, the great woman of faith who was the only member of her family to survive a Nazi concentration camp during World War II, told the true story of addressing a church in Munich, Germany in 1947. She had come from Holland to speak to the German people about the forgiveness of God. That evening she told the crowd that anyone who is willing to confess their sins can be forgiven and have their sins cast into the deepest sea by God to be remembered no more.
Corrie said that the service had just concluded and people were filing out when she saw a balding, heavyset man in a gray overcoat working his way to the front of the room. The instant she laid eyes on him the horrible memories of Ravensbruck came flooding over her. The man making his way toward Corrie had been one of the guards in the concentration camp–one of the cruelest of all the guards. The man stuck out his hand to Corrie and said, “A fine message, Fraulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all sins are at the bottom of the sea.”
Corrie said that even though she had just finished speaking on forgiveness she pretended to fumble in her purse rather than take his hand. The man evidently didn’t remember her from Ravensbruck, but she remembered him all too well.
“You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk,” her said. “I was a guard there. Since that time I have become a Christian. I know God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from the lips of someone who was there. Fraulein, will you forgive me?” The former guard put out his hand again.
Corrie said that she stood there–a person whose sins had been paid for by the Lord Jesus–a person who had been forgiven, but yet, could not forgive. She had watched her sister die in that horrible place. Could this man possibly erase her sister’s terrible death simply by asking? Corrie said forgiving would be the most difficult thing she had ever had to do, but she knew she must. Since the end of the war she had run a home in Holland for victims of the Nazi brutality. Over and over she had seen those who forgave their enemies return to the outside world and rebuild their lives. And she had seen those who refuse to forgive become bitter, emotional cripples.
“Jesus, help me!” She prayed silently. “Help me lift my hand.” Corrie said that as she thrust out her hand, not because she wanted to or felt like it, but only in obedience to God, something incredible happened. She said it was as if healing seemed to wash over her whole body and tears immediately came to her eyes.
“I forgive you, brother!” She cried. “With all my heart, I forgive you!” For a long time the two grasped each other’s hands, the former guard, and the former prisoner. Corrie ten Boom said that she had never known God’s love so intensely as she did at that moment.
Say: “If we have been forgiven by God, then we must forgive others if we want to show the world what God is like. We must also be willing to ask for forgiveness when we have offended someone else. There are six little words we must make a part of our vocabularies and practice using every day. Those words are, ‘I was wrong, please forgive me.’” Ask your family members to explain how forgiving others and asking others to forgive us shows the world what God is like.
“If we have the true love of God in our hearts, we will show it in our lives.” D. L. Moody
“Father, please help us be willing to ask for the forgiveness of others when we are wrong. Help us also forgive others just like You have forgiven us in order that we may show the world what You are really like.”