Tuesday, January 20, 2009
“For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," and again, "The Lord will judge his people." It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Hebrews 10:30-31). We should not be surprised that the enemies of God would also become enemies of those who are made in the image and likeness of God. We are commanded "As much as in you lies within you live at peace with all men." This means we must learn to be peacemakers. The balance comes in making peace with others without wounding our conscience or offending God. There are Biblical examples where peace making would not have worked. David and Goliath could not have lived in peace with each other. However David did everything possible to make peace with King Saul. The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him your friend. Jesus said "Blessed are the peacemakers." The command to "Avenge not yourselves would be difficult to understand, were it not coupled with "Give place to God wrath." Should I seek revenge I am the one who is conquered, should I choose to forgive I am the conqueror. This is why the Lord tells us "Be not overcome by evil, but triumph over evil by doing good" (Romans 12:21). We are to "Give place" to God's wrath. Revenge is God's parking place, if we park in His place, we will experience some of His wrath. A tremendous example of forgiveness comes from the life of Corrie Ten Boom (1892-1983) she was born in Amsterdam and raised in the Dutch Reformed Church. When the Nazis came to power in the late 1930s, Corrie and her family hid Jews in the basement of their home. In 1944, Corrie's family was arrested and sent to Ravensbrück, one of the worst concentration camps in Nazi Germany. There, Corrie's entire family died. Corrie herself was scheduled for execution - but she was released shortly before the end of World War II because of a clerical error. Corrie concluded that God had saved her for a purpose. She committed her life to preaching the good news of Jesus Christ, speaking in churches, tent meetings, and open-air rallies. At one meeting in Germany in 1947, she taught on God's forgiveness. Afterward, a man came up to her and introduced himself as a former Ravensbrück guard - but Corrie needed no introduction. She remembered him well. He was notorious for his cruelty. "I've become a Christian since the war," he said. "I know God has forgiven me for the horrible things I did, but I would like to hear it from you. Could you tell me that you've forgiven me, too?" He put out his hand. Corrie stood there for what seemed an eternity, unable to think of anything but the horrors this man had committed. Then she remembered the words of Jesus that required her to forgive ANY sin. She silently prayed, "Jesus, help me!" ...then she took the man's hand and cried out, "I forgive you, brother!" She later recalled, "I had never known God's love so intensely as I did then." That was the defining moment in Corrie's ministry. Over the years that followed, she took the Christian gospel to more than sixty countries around the world and hundreds of thousands of lives were changed through her speaking, writing, and the motion picture The Hiding Place, based on her autobiography. If we want to be used in a great way by God, we must be willing to forgive those who may be a great source a pain in our lives. Is there someone who needs your forgiveness today? Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.