Freedom to Forgive

Hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.     Romans 5:5

For  me, one of the most powerful stories about forgiveness is about Corrie Ten Boom, author of the “Hiding Place”, when she told of a time in which this text played an important role.  Corrie Ten Boom was a young girl of a Christian family in Holland during the Second World War.  When the Nazis took over Corrie’s country, they maintained their persecutions of Jews – killing Jews, sending them to concentration camps, torturing them, and so forth.  The Ten Boom family believed it to be their Christian duty to help protect these innocent people, and would hide the Jews until they could escape.

But the Ten Boom family was caught, and the punishment for their non-cooperation was that they were shipped off to concentration camps along with the Jews.  The family was split up; Corrie would never see her mother and father again.  She watched her sister slowly die from hunger and malnutrition.  She watched others being herded into gas chambers – their only crime was simply being of a group of people that the Nazis didn’t like.  She would witness and experience extreme cruelty and humiliation at the hands of these Nazis.

But through it all she had a firm anchor on her Lord Jesus, and the whole experience, instead of driving her away from her Lord, rather taught her some wonderful things about the love of Jesus.  She came out of this time of suffering with a faith and a hope that she just wanted to share with everyone, about a God Who could even be found in the midst of horrors and hatred, a God Who still came through powerfully with love and forgiveness.

She called herself a “Tramp for the Lord,” because she wandered from continent to continent, sharing her story, and sharing her Lord wherever she could.  It is an astounding story of faith as she would cross perhaps the Atlantic Ocean, not knowing anything about what would happen on the other side, where she would stay and how she would eat.  Yet the Lord would extraordinarily take care of her.

But one day it happened.  After speaking to a particular group of people in Germany, a man came up to her and said, “Do you remember me?”  No, she could not, so he explained that he was one of the guards, a particularly cruel guard, who was in charge at the concentration camp where Corrie had watched her sister die.  The man had become a Christian since then, and now had come forward to ask for Corrie’s forgiveness.  As Corrie thought back to those days and nights of horror, she just could not forgive.

Her anguished heart cried out, “Oh, Lord, You not only forgave Your enemies, You died for them – and You commanded us to do likewise.  But I cannot do this, I just do not have the power to turn back the surge of hatred and anger at this man.  I cannot, but You can.  Give me this love that can do it, this love that caused You to die even for Your enemies, to forgive them.  You have promised In Romans 5:5 that Your love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit – therefore I claim this promise, I claim this love for myself, just as You have promised.  Make me love this man and able to forgive him also, just as You have done.”

She herself was just a little amazed when she found that, in the next moment, she could look the man in the eye and honestly tell him that she forgave him.

“And hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.”  God’s love – a love that would forgive – even die for enemies.  How’s your love been doing these past few days – anything close to that?

How easy it is to have enemies!  and so hard to love and forgive them!  It’s so easy to get angry at people around you, because of how they mistreat you or someone you love.  It  is so easy to ridicule and make fun of, to make a fool out of someone you don’t like.

But what can be worse, is that we can have hidden enemies, even ones you would not recognize as enemies, or feel comfortable calling as an enemy.  Sometimes this enemy is pretty close to you, going by the name of husband or wife, or child, or sister or brother.  You wouldn’t call them an enemy, yet the anger, the fighting, the disgust can be just as real.

You wouldn’t call it hatred, but the pointed little barbs, the snide comments, the little remarks meant to hurt – or – on the other hand, the silence that can be deafening, the cold shoulder and ignoring of each other.  Have you known times of such little love, times when you seek to really put the other person into his “place” or else to ignore her out of existence if you could? buy generic cialis Shockingly, numerous children never get the help they require. Adaptogens are the naturally occurring substances found in plants and herbs. In case you’re overall rested, you’re less inclined to battle with erectile brokenness. The various sexual problems, which are common among men, can be penned down as Lack of desire Ejaculation Problems Infertility Erectile dysfunction or Impotence The causes, which can lead to, the above-mentioned problems are: Physical Health These conditions include heart disease, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes. This can happen outside the family as well.  A schoolmate acts as if you are invisible, and that goads you into anger and fury.  A co-worker oversteps his boundary into your territory, and gets away with it, and that can just make you steam with anger.  A woman that you know said or did something inappropriate to or about you, and the wrath just builds within you.  How easily a friendship can be destroyed or never even started because of jealousy or contempt.  Do you know how It is – how it is to be loveless from a spiraling disgust and hostility?

And knowing that this Is sin, that it Is contrary to God’s will doesn’t help much.  Yes, indeed, this runs cross grain to God’s way of doing things, and it has only one result, destruction: destruction of our relationships with each other, destruction of our relationship with God, even destruction of ourselves – that’s what hell is all about, destruction of all relationships, with the misery of hatred, anger, cruelty, disgust, and jealousy.  Sometimes we can almost taste that hell on earth.

And the hardest thing about it all is that we are helpless – sometimes it just seems that we are out of control, that there Is no way out, no way we are going to change – no way we are going to love and forgive the way God demands of us.

It is no mistake then, that this verse about the love of God poured into our hearts should be followed with a verse that says, “When we were yet helpless, at the right time Christ died for us the ungodly.”  Look at how much hope plays a role in our text, “Hope does not disappoint us,” and now “When we were yet hopeless,” Christ dies for us.  Think about that!  God proclaims Himself in the business of helping the helpless, of pouring love into a heart that has none, of giving hope when we seem to have noting left, of creating out of nothing.

What a thought – God knows exactly what you are like – He knows that inside of you is a swamp of hatreds, angers, contempt for others and for yourself.  He knows that you are helpless, often frustrated, never seeming to win, so often losing and making a mess of things.  And now He enters to do something which you can’t seem to do.

To begin with, you cannot change unless you know for absolute surety that you are forgiven.  If you don’t have a grasp on forgiveness, you will be too busy hiding and protecting yourself, or attempting to compensate for errors and failures.  It isn’t until you experience forgiveness that you discover what love is about, the kind of love that could even love you in spite of all that is locked away inside of you.  And that is why we have to be constantly drawn back to the cross of Jesus.

How true it is that we are in reality so helpless.  The only answer is that we be connected to something which is bigger, more powerful and far more able that we are – and there is that something, that Someone!  It is Someone Who, seeing how helpless we are, would willingly die for us; Someone Who, seeing how helpless we are, would willingly pour out His love and forgiveness for us; Someone Who would pour into our hearts His very own love.  No, it was not a wonderful man who did that.  It wasn’t even an angel who was moved to such sympathy and empathy for our condition.  It was the Creator God Himself.

What a hope we have been given!  He opens the door to us, first with a fantastic message of His forgiveness.  He comes to wash us clean, with a forgiveness that makes past sin, past errors, past failures no longer exist.  The anger and self-hatred that we can feel in our frustration toward ourselves, the punishment and wrath that we aim at ourselves for mistakes and foolish stupidities of the past, Jesus now takes upon Himself.  He stands there not to debate whether these things deserve such a harsh penalty – He agrees that they indeed deserve the verdict of death – and then He takes that very death upon Himself.

Satan doesn’t want us to let go of the negative, simply because he wants nothing else except to toy with our emotions, and that we should suffer and lose hope.  But in Holy Communion Jesus steps into our personal lives, into the world our bodies inhabit.  He sets His deeds in front of our eyes, in order that we “shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” [John 8:32] – His Body and Blood confront us here in this present moment with all which was done to guarantee our confidence, a base from which we can boldly try a different life, confirming that when “the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed’ [John 8:36]

We who are so helpless about ourselves stand in utter amazement.  Who would ever want to die for the likes of us?!  And yet the evidence is on the cross.  Jesus would .  Even for sinners like we are?  Even for sinners that are so helpless to change as we can be?  The evidence is on the cross.  Jesus would.

That kind of forgiveness has power; that kind of love has power.  In this way God can reach down into the depths and touch the very nerve-centers of our being, releasing us, freeing us.  Suddenly we see just how much a new life and new chance we can have – not some one-time new chance, but something that is free and new as each day is fresh and new.  Now we have the freedom to be different – to be forgiving of each other and of ourselves.

Come to the cross and discover that indeed we have a wonderful hope to be found there; see all the many wonderful blessings, promises and benefits that God is pouring out into our hearts because of Jesus.  Come and see, come and experience such a forgiveness and a love from God which can indeed change our lives.

Leave a Reply