The last two weeks I have been fixated on the act of forgiveness. I guess, it is because I have been rereading, The Hiding Place, by Corrie ten Boom. Gary Chapman reiterates her words by saying, “Forgiveness is the choice to love rather than demand justice”.
Do you believe this? Do I believe this? To what extent are we willing to believe it? It’s easy to forgive a thing when we are not vested. I mean, if someone stole some of my candy, I would probably say to myself… ‘He took my candy… no worries, I have plenty… I will just get more, but maybe bigger truffles this time. Yeah, I will get the ones with the creamy peanut butter nugget”… But what about something that we care deeply about… can we forgive an offense that is really heinous?
Corrie ten Boom gives us a glimpse into true forgiveness when she told her amazing story of love for the SS guard that she met after the war while she was speaking about love and forgiveness. She could have demanded justice. It was her civil right to do so. He killed people, civilians, not soldiers. In war, you can kill enemy combatants’ but not civilians. It’s in the rule book. He can’t get away with that, can he? Remember the Nuremberg trials… . Some 200 German war crimes defendants were tried at Nuremberg, and 1,600 others were tried under the traditional channels of military justice. It is true Corrie was within her civil rights to see him come to justice and be tried as a war criminal. This man deserved to be among them. Not parading around Holland as a free man. He committed and perpetuated crimes against humanity. I was not sure what “Crimes against Humanity” meant so I looked it up and it is defined as: Murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and other inhumane acts done against any civilian population, or persecutions on political, racial, or religious grounds, when such acts are done or such persecutions are carried on in execution of or in connection with any crime against peace or any war crime.
He was guilty. He deserved to punishment… Justice must be served. Right?
How does God show love and justice in His relationship with us?
God’s justice means He cannot excuse sin. Yet his love compelled Him to give His son to pay the penalty for our sin. Because God forgave us when we deserved judgment, we can do the same for others.
Justice says, Somebody has to pay for this.
Forgiveness says, I’ll pay for it; you owe me nothing.
In the bible there are 2 main examples of forgiveness. Jesus on the cross said, Father, forgive them because they do not know what they are doing (Luke, 23:33-34) and in Acts 7:59-60 in which Stephen said pretty much the same thing, when he said “Father, don’t hold this crime against them. There is another example I would like to use.
In the movie, You’ve Got Mail, the character played by Meg Ryan, Kathleen Kelly has to decide if she wants to forgive the man who destroyed her business… the business that was her mother’s life work, her mother’s legacy. “Meg said of her mother, “My mother made everything beautiful and fine”. The children’s book store, The Little Shop Around the Corner, was adorable and full of love just as her mother was. Remember all the twinkle lights they put up at Christmas? The shop seemed almost magical. I love twinkle lights, so much so, that my kitchen has over a thousand of them year round.
So in the movie, how did Kathleen come to terms with this man, Joe Fox? I think for the story to really work in our real word, Kathleen had to come to believe that her mother’s gift was not the shop, even as cute as it was. The shop could be destroyed. The mothers’ gift was the love she invested into Kathleen and the ability she had to make people, especially children, feel beautiful and fine. They twirled together in the dance of love. Meg was beautiful and very fine because her mother instilled into her that you can treat others with elegance and grace, loving everyone you meet… even so-called enemies who could take away your work, your business, your livelihood… Yes, Mr. Fox did take away the business and livelihood, but he could not take away her ability to see others as God sees them and to love them with elegance and grace despite the circumstances. The key to forgiveness for us… for me is to look at issues differently. I need to look at life like Jesus lived. Love is important. Forgiveness is important and God will help us with both.