Forgiveness, The Way To Freedom

    The apostle Paul wrote, “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby you are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice; and be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:30-32).
    Free yourself of bitterness, anger, evil speaking and malice. Welcome the Holy Spirit to fill your life and give you the power of a kind and tender heart. God has forgiven you because of Christ. Now you readily forgive one another. This is the way to genuine freedom.
    Corrie ten Boom was arrested during World War II for her part in sheltering Jews from Nazi death squads. She was confined to a concentration camp. Corrie and her sister Betsy suffered terrible humiliation and degradation in the death camp of Ravensbruck. Their father died in another camp. Betsy later died at Ravensbruck, while Corrie continued to suffer the dehumanizing conditions for the remainder of the war. The grace of God sustained her during these difficult days. After she was released she went to Germany to preach and teach God’s forgiveness.
    At the end of one service, a certain man came forward. Corrie recognized him immediately. This man had been a member of the S.S., assigned to guard duties at the prison camp. He had been one of the cruelest of the guards who ogled and taunted the women in the delousing showers. He had been especially cruel to Corrie and her sister Betsy.
    Now, with his hands outstretched, he stood face to face with Corrie. “Yes, sister, it is wonderful that Jesus forgives all our sins, just as you say.” Corrie froze on the spot. Painful memories flooded her mind of the years gone by.
    The man continued, “You mentioned Ravensbruck. I was one of the guards there. Since then I have heard the message of the gospel and now wear the name of Christian. I am fully dedicated to serve the God you spoke of tonight. He has cleansed and forgiven me of those horrible sins I committed. “Old things are passed away and all have become new”. “Will you forgive me?”
    Corrie just stood there paralyzed. How could she forgive this evil man for what he had done? Betsy died there under this man’s cruel oversight. “Lord forgive me but I just don’t think I can forgive him.”
Suddenly she remembered the passage, “even as God, for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.” The hate melted in her and she stretched out her hand and cried, “I forgive you”. Forgiveness is the only way to freedom.
    A number of years ago I watched one of the most graphic TV reality shows of all time. A young teenager who had been sentenced to life without parole had requested an interview with the parents of the daughter he had murdered. The hearing was set and when he shuffled into the room, shackled at hands and feet, he faced the parents for the first time since the trial.
    The silence was deafening. His request was sincere, direct and passionate. “Will you forgive me for the awful crime that I committed in the murder of your daughter?” Again, silenced consumed the room. No one was crying or speaking a word. The parents sat as if frozen to their seats. The mother finally spoke and what she said was an answer filled with wisdom.
    “We have to forgive you”, she began. Her voice was filled with power and emotion. “We have to forgive you”, she repeated. We have to forgive you for we were becoming like you were. We hated and despised you and in our hearts we wanted to kill you, to cut you into little pieces.” Her voice became calm as she said the most marvelous words, “From the depth of our hearts, we forgive you.”
    Release all bitterness. Forfeit all wrath and anger. Move away from malice and find deliverance from evil speaking. Allow the love and kindness of God to fill your soul and become tenderhearted. Remember that all the sins you have committed have been forgiven. Not because of any innate goodness on our part, but because “Christ paid a price he did not owe, a price we could not pay.
    Jesus told about a wicked servant that was forgiven the great debt he owed. After being released he found a fellow servant that owed him ‘a few bucks’. He threw him into prison. And when the Lord heard of it, he recalled that man and said, “O thou wicked servant. I forgave you all that debt because you asked me. Why didn’t you have compassion on your fellow servant as I had pity on you?”
    The Lord delivered him to the tormentors till he should pay his debt. Jesus concludes this parable with these words. “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if you from your hearts forgive not every one his brother his sins” (Matthew 18:21-35).
    Forgiveness is the way to freedom!


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