In Tramp for the Lord, Corrie ten Boom recounts a time when in 1947, at a church in Munich, Germany, she was asked to forgive one of the cruelest prison guards she knew during her time as a prisoner at the notorious women’s death camp, Ravensbruck. A prison where over ninety-six thousand women died.
Although the former guard did not remember Corrie as one of the women he had charge over at Ravensbruck, she certainly remembered him.
After completing her message where she said, “When we confess our sins, God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever. And even though I cannot find a Scripture for it, I believed God then places a sign out there that says, NO FISHIING ALLOWED,” the former guard approached Corrie.
The man told Corrie he became a Christian after his time at Ravensbruck. He knew God forgave him for the things he did there. The man stuck out his hand to Corrie. He asked if she would forgive him as well.
As Corrie stood there with coldness clutching her heart, she knew forgiveness is not an emotion. It is an act of the will. She prayed for Jesus to help her forgive the man standing in front of her for all the evil he committed. And Jesus did.
With Jesus’ help, and through his Spirit’s power, Corrie was able to tell the cruelest prison guard she knew during her time at one of the cruelest places on earth, she forgave him.
Corrie forgave the former prison guard not because she felt like it, but because God commanded her to forgive him.
The message Corrie shared with her audience and lived out in a church in Munich in 1947, is the same message the Bible tells us to live out today. It is the message that God’s forgiveness has a prior condition. “If you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”
When we consider the slights, hurts, injuries, and wrongs we suffer at another’s hand, may we remember what Corrie ten Boom remembered. God’s forgiveness has a prior condition.
If we want God to forgive us our trespasses, we must be willing to forgive the trespasses others do against us.
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“If you forgive others the wrongs they have done to you, your Father in heaven will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive the wrongs you have done.” Matthew 6:14-15 (GNT)
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I cannot begin to imagine how hard that must have been for Corrie to forgive that guard. On top of everything else, that’s where her sister had died. You made an excellent point that Corrie forgave him not because she felt like it but because God commands it. An example we all need to follow at times.
Kathy, I know. I cannot imagine that, either. I have enough trouble forgiving minor things sometimes. Certainly nothing like what Corrie forgave.