Corrie Ten Boom was arrested, along with her father and her sister, Betsie and two brothers, for helping to hide Jews from the Nazis during World War II. That’s a very simplistic statement of their work and all that happened to them; but what I want to say about them here is that her father died early in his captivity, and Corrie watched her sister Betsie suffer and finally die under the harsh treatment of the Concentration Camp’s guards.
Two years after the war, in 1947 as she was speaking in Germany about her family’s ordeal and God’s goodness to them throughout, she was approached one day at the end of a lecture, by a man who looked familiar to her.
This is what she later wrote:
“One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat; the next, a blue uniform and a visored cap with its skull and crossbones. It came back with a rush; the huge room with its harsh overhead lights; the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor; the shame of walking naked past this man...
The place was Ravensbruck and the man who was making his way forward had been a guard - one of the most cruel guards.
Now he was in front of me, hand thrust out; “A fine message, Fraulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!”
And I, who had spoken so glibly of forgiveness, fumbled in my pocketbook rather than take that hand. He would not remember me, of course - how could he remember one prisoner among those thousands of women?
But I remembered him and the leather crop swinging from his belt. I was face-to-face with one of my captors and my blood seemed to freeze.
“You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk,” he was saying. “I was a guard there.” No, he did not remember me.
“But since that time,” he went on, “I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fraulein,” -again the hand came out- “Will you forgive me?”
What would you do?
When God’s Word exhorts us to bear with one another and forgive one another, just how seriously are we to take that? Aren’t there limits? Isn’t there just so much we can be expected to forgive, and beyond that God will understand if we don’t...because that other person and the things they’ve done are so very terrible?
Paul addresses his readers in these few verses of Colossians 3, as those who have been CHOSEN OF GOD, and as those LOVED BY GOD, and as those FORGIVEN BY GOD.
Let’s use these things as an outline, and discover what implications they have in reference to our duty to forgive.
CHOSEN OF GOD
This is a very special term referring to Christians, that is not understood deeply enough by most Christians.
When someone uses the term ’chosen’ in Christian conversation it usually ends up in a debate over predestination. Did we choose God, or did He choose us? Did we really have a part in the decision to become Christians, or was it written into His plan for us, and we were bound by destiny to one day believe and accept Him?