But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:15 NLT
Eighty-nine of his relatives died at the hands of the Nazis.
Simon Wiesenthal was a young Polish prisoner of the Nazis in 1944. He had watched them kill his grandmother and had looked on as they forced his mother onto a freight car crammed with elderly Jewish women.
One day, as his prison detail was cleaning up at a German hospital, a nurse approached him and asked if he was a Jew, then motioned for him to follow her. She led him to a musty room where a solitary SS soldier fresh from the Russian front lay covered in bandages. The soldier wanted to make a deathbed confession to a Jew.
The man told of how he and his troops had stumbled upon booby traps that killed thirty of their soldiers. As an act of revenge, they had rounded up three hundred Jews, herded them into a three-story house, doused it with gasoline, and then fired grenades at it. The soldiers then surrounded the house and shot anyone who tried to escape.
Now this young man wanted Wiesenthal to forgive him. But Wiesenthal couldn’t—or wouldn’t. He writes, “At last I made up my mind, and without a word I left the room.” (The Sunflower)
No one ever said forgiveness was easy, but Jesus says His forgiveness of our sins depends on our willingness to forgive others. To put it another way, forgiving others demonstrates we’ve experienced God’s forgiveness.
Regardless of what others do to us, forgiveness is never justified. That’s a hard statement to swallow, especially if you belong to a race that another race tried to exterminate. Of if you were one who actually experienced it firsthand. But the truth remains.
Nothing anyone could ever do to us is more devastating than what we’ve done to God through our sins.
God is holy and cannot look on sin, yet we are sinners. Out of love, He chose to allow His Son to become one of us and to pay our sin debt. A picture of forgiveness at its best. What He’s done for us He expects us to channel to others. And through the power of His Spirit—and only by that power—we can.
When called upon to forgive, our choice is the same as Wiesenthal’s: forgive or walk away. Don’t walk away.
Forgive and experience the joy of its freeing power.
Tweetable: Whom do you need to forgive?
Prayer: Father, as You have forgiven us—and continue to do so—enable us to forgive those who hurt us.