and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. – Matthew 6:12
Check out last Sunday’s sermon here.
I don’t believe it is hyperbole to say that in Christ any sin against us from others can be forgiven. It may seem impossible in the moment, yet the transforming power of a Gospel that forgives our every sin, even the deepest and darkest deeds, gives us hope to forgive the deepest, darkest deeds committed against us or those we love.
You may be familiar with the life of Corrie Ten Boom, a Dutch woman, who was arrested by the Nazis for aiding Jews during German occupation. She spent time in a concentration camp, Ravensbrück, and suffered greatly, even having her sister and father die in captivity.
Though a Christian, Corrie battled the very idea of extending forgiveness to those who had been so cruel. She had no ability in herself to do so. However, as recorded in her book, The Hiding Place, Corrie was given a chance many years later to address her unforgiveness toward a former Nazi prison guard who had helped in her captivity.
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 preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal 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.
If we put a limit on our ability to forgive, as those who claim to be under the cross, we may find that we in fact are placing limitations on the power of the cross itself to forgive the great debt we owe to God.
Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little. – Luke 7:47