Freedom House Church and Healing Centre

Forgiven to forgive

Forgiven to Forgive

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you,

 along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, 

just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Eph. 4:31-32)


Greetings fellow Kingdom citizens,

In 1947 Corrie Ten Boom was in a church in Munich sharing a message on God’s forgiveness. After her presentation in the church was over, as she exited the church, one of the concentration camp guards from Ravensbrück where her and her sister were held stood at the door to meet her. Immediately she was gripped with a flood of emotions as she relived in her mind the shame and trauma that guard had caused. The Lord was giving her opportunity to practice the message she had just delivered. The guard, who was now a Christian, was forgiven by God of his sins, cruel as those sins were; could she now extend that same forgiveness with which she was forgiven to her “enemy”. As she froze in shock, she recalls asking God for the grace and supernatural ability to deal with what and who was in front of her. After a few seconds, she was enabled through divine assistance, to take the man’s hand and forgive him ‘with all my heart’. She writes that in that moment, ‘I had never known God’s love so intensely as I did then’. Her story of forgiving neighbors and friends who had betrayed her, and even forgiving concentration camp guards who were working in Ravensbrück where her and her sister were held, and her sister Betsie died, has inspired thousands throughout the years. (Read Matthew 18:21-35)

The parable Jesus tells in Matthew 18 is inspired by Peter’s question on forgiveness. The question about how many times one should be forgiven is silenced by the truth that in the kingdom of God, to which we belong if we have been born again, forgiveness is not a matter of counting the times, but of continually offering to others what has been so graciously given to us. The parable illustrates a man (literally slave) who owes a king an exorbitant, even outrageous amount of money – we’re talking in today’s terms of 100’s of millions of dollars. It is a debt that could never be paid off! The man in desperation falls to his knees and begs for mercy. Notice the response of the ‘lord’: “And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt” (Matt. 18:27 NASB). It is such a picture of the love of God in Christ Jesus offered to every sinner who truly falls before the Father begging for mercy and forgiveness for sins committed against a Holy King. RELEASED & FORGIVEN is the pronouncement – “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:12). If you think paying off a car loan or mortgage is something to be celebrated, how much more the celebration for having the debt of your sins paid for – a debt that could never be paid by any of us. We were at the mercy of a merciful Lord and King to free us from this debt: “Oh, my words could not tell not even in part, of the debt of love that is owed by this thankful heart” (Matt Redman – I will offer up my life).  

So, how much more grievous is it for us who have been forgiven so much, to not offer forgiveness to the one who is indebted to us. The contrast made in the parable Jesus tells is designed to shock: the slave is forgiven hundreds of millions of dollars, yet that slave refuses to forgive his fellow slave’s debt of roughly six thousand dollars in today's currency. How could this be? Oh friends, let us not miss the lesson! Jesus is teaching kingdom truth: we are all slaves of the King, brought into the kingdom by the mercy and grace of God in Christ Jesus. In view of God’s mercy, we are exhorted to offer mercy to our fellow kingdom citizens – a mercy that includes radical love and forgiveness – “forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart” (18:35). This parable is told off the heels of verses 15-20, where church members are to confront each other with sins and deal with them accordingly, just as the fellow servants/slaves do in the parable (18:31). The church members have an obligation to practice and uphold the mandate of the church to be a place of forgiveness, grace and mercy (Matt. 18:18-20). As Paul writes to the Colossian church, so Jesus says to us: “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity” (Col. 3:12-14). As if we needed any more incentive to forgive one another as we have been forgiven, we hear Jesus’ words to us: “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” Sobering words indeed!

 Friends, Corrie Ten Boom will be the first to tell you how hard forgiving people can be. It is only with the help of the Lord Jesus, in His strength and power that it is possible – but it is possible! Forgiving does not mean we forget, but as an act of the will, we choose to release and forgive the person and ourselves from the prison of unforgiveness in which we keep both us and our offender. Corrie opened up a home for victims of concentration camps. She writes that those who truly forgave experienced true freedom, while those who could and would not forgive, experienced continual physical and emotional pain. Forgiveness is freedom. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed – with Jesus, it is possible to forgive as we have been forgiven!


Grace and Peace to you!


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