It’s only by the power of the Holy Spirit that we can forgive.
Love knows no limit to
its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope. It stands
when all else has fallen. How do we get that strong love? The Holy
Spirit is the one who gives it to us. We must look to Him when faced
with the challenge of loving our enemies.
Africa I visited a man who was imprisoned and sentenced to death. I
asked, “Have you ever heard of the cross of Jesus Christ, where He
carried the sins of the world—also your sins?”
“Do you believe in Jesus Christ, that He will be your Savior too?”
I love Him, but I have not always been faithful. Politics has taken up
my time and attention completely, but now I have brought all my sins to
Jesus. He has forgiven me. If I should live any longer, then I will
serve Him with all my life.”·
“Have you forgiven the people who have brought you here, who will have your death on their conscience?”
“No, I hate them.”
“I can understand that. I will tell you of one of my experiences.
the war in Holland, I helped to save Jewish people. One day a man came
to me who told me his wife also helped the Jews and that now she had
been arrested: ‘She is in the police station and probably she will be
put to death. There is a policeman who is willing to let her escape if
we pay him 600 guilders, but I have no money.’
the meantime I collected all the money from my friends and all I had
myself, and it was exactly 600 guilders. I gave it to him.
“But he was a betrayer. His wife had not been arrested. The enemy told him to find out whether I helped Jewish people.
this man thought that at the same time he could make some money. He
went home with 600 guilders in his pocket. But five minutes later the
enemy came, and my whole family was arrested.
when I heard that this man had betrayed us, hatred came into my heart,
just as it happened with you. I had given him the last money I had. But
then I read in the Bible that hatred is really murder in God’s eyes.
glad I was that I knew what I could do against hatred. The Bible says:
‘The blood of Jesus Christ [God’s] Son cleanses us from our sins. … If
we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and
to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’ (1 John 1:7-9). I brought my
hatred to Jesus. He forgave me and cleansed me.
the war this betrayer was sentenced to death. I wrote to him: ‘Your
betrayal caused the death of my 84-year-old father, my brother, his son
and my sister in prison. I myself have suffered terribly through your
fault, but I have forgiven you everything. This is just a very little
example of the forgiveness and love of Jesus. He lives in my heart; that
is why I can forgive you. Jesus will also come into your heart and will
make you a child of God. Confess your sins to Him. On the cross of
Calvary He has finished all for your sins and mine.’
he wrote me: ‘I have prayed: “Jesus, when You can give such a love for
the enemy in the heart of someone who follows You, then there is hope
for me.” I have indeed confessed my sins to Him. … I am a child of
“So you see that
Jesus used me to save the soul of this same man I had hated so much. Do
you know that if you do not forgive, you do not receive forgiveness? You
cannot do that, neither can I, but Jesus can!”
same day the African prisoner sent a message to his wife: “Forgive my
murderers. You are not able to do it, I am not able, but Jesus is able.
If we are not willing, then we ourselves do not receive forgiveness.”
never touch the love of God so much as when we love our enemies. But we
don’t have to do it ourselves. The Bible says, “The love of God has
been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us”
(Rom. 5:5, NKJV). God does the job. Hallelujah!
Corrie ten Boom (1892-1983)
spent 10 months in a concentration camp during World War II. For 40
years after her release, she shared God’s love through speaking and
writing. This article was adapted from Marching Orders for the End Battle.