FORGIVENESS IS FOR OURSELVES TOO


STANDING STRONG THROUGH THE STORM

FORGIVENESS IS FOR OURSELVES TOO
================================
Forgive us our debts, as we also have
forgiven our debtors. Matthew 6:12

Corrie ten Boom often thought back
over the horrors of Ravensbruck prison camp
and realized that it was hard to
find forgiveness in her heart—the true
Christian attitude for the former
Nazis that would reveal through her the
Spirit’s goodness. Where was love,
acceptance, and forgiveness in a horror
camp where allegedly more than 95,000
women died? How could she ever forget
the horrible cruelty of the guards and
the smoke constantly coming from the
chimney of the crematorium?

A few
years later, Corrie was speaking in a church in Munich, and when the
meeting
was over she saw one of the cruelest male guards of Ravensbruck coming
to speak to her. He had his hand outstretched. “I have become a Christian,” he
explained. “I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did,
but I
would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fraulein, will you
forgive me?”

Conflict raged in Corrie’s heart. The good Spirit of God
urged her to forgive.
The spirit of bitterness and coldness urged her to turn
away. “Jesus, help me.
I can lift my hand. I can do that much.” As their
hands met it was as if
warmth and healing broke forth with tears and joy. “I
forgive you, brother,
with all my heart.” Later Corrie testified that “it was
the power of the Holy
Spirit” who had poured the love of God into her heart
that day.

Philip Yancey gives a pragmatic reason why we must forgive that
seems very
foundational: forgiveness alone can stop the cycle of blame, pain
as well as
vengeance and violence. The meaning of the New Testament word
“forgiveness,”
he says, is literally “to release, to hurl away, to free
yourself.” The only
way to break the chain or cycle of hurtfulness is to stop
and ask forgiveness.
This allows a relationship to start over and begin anew.
The Russian writer,
Solzhenitsyn, believed this forgiveness is what truly
makes us different from
animals. Only humans can perform that most unnatural
act of forgiveness that
transcends the relentless law of nature.

The
only thing harder than forgiveness is the alternative. A teacher once
told
each of her students to bring a clear plastic bag and a sack of potatoes
to
school. For every person they refused to forgive in their life’s
experience,
they chose a potato, wrote on it the name and date, and put it in
the plastic
bag. They were then told to carry this bag with them everywhere
for one week,
putting it beside their bed at night, on the car seat when
driving, next to
their desk at work. The hassle of lugging this around with
them made it clear
what a weight they were carrying spiritually, and how they
had to pay
attention to it all the time to not forget and keep leaving it in
embarrassing
places…Too often we think of forgiveness as a gift to the other
person, and it
clearly is for ourselves as well!

RESPONSE: Today I
will give myself the gift of forgiveness. Is there someone I
need to
forgive?

PRAYER: Father, I pray today for the power of Your Holy Spirit
to enable me to
release any cycles of hurtfulness in my life by forgiving
others.

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