When They Don’t Deserve to be Forgiven
Inside an austere cement structure, a small group of tourists made their way solemnly from room to room of the Jerusalem Holocaust Museum. Disturbing images of cruelties against the Jews at the hands of Nazi soldiers hung like a dark cloud overhead, as their knowledgeable Jewish tour guide painted a vivid picture of the sheer injustice of it all.
But something especially bothered Rhoda, one of the members of the tour group. She had searched for a particular name in the room dedicated to those who helped Jews hide and escape from the Nazis, but couldn’t find the famous rescuer’s name anywhere. As they were exiting the building at the end of the tour, she decided to ask their guide about it.
“Do you know the story of Corrie ten Boom?” Rhoda prodded.
“Never heard of her,” the guide answered gruffly.
“Corrie ten Boom was a Christian woman from Amsterdam who helped save many Jews by hiding them in a secret room in her house,” Rhoda explained. “Her whole family was arrested by the Nazis, and eventually all but Corrie died in a concentration camp.
“But what makes her story unique is what happened after the war. Years later, Corrie met one of the Nazi guards who had been the most cruel to her and her family. Immediately feelings of anger and hatred against this man rose up in her. Yet she knew that only by forgiving him would she be set free. Praying with each step for God to give her strength, she walked up to the former prison guard, looked him in the eye, shook his hand, and was actually able to forgive him in her heart!”
Those Who Don’t Deserve to be Forgiven
The tour guide, who had only been listening half-heartedly to the story, now got visibly angry. “How could she forgive that man? Some things shouldn’t be forgiven.”
Whirling away, he stalked back to the building, without even saying goodbye to the rest of the group.
Some things shouldn’t be forgiven. The tour guide was right. That Nazi guard didn’t deserve to be forgiven. The truth is that none of us do. We don’t deserve to be forgiven.
In unimaginable pain, suffering a slow death at the hands of unjust and cruel Roman soldiers, Jesus gasped, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:24). He was talking about you and me.
I don’t deserve that kind of forgiveness. Earning it is impossible. I could never pay Him back. I can only thank Him for His amazing grace. And because Jesus forgives ME when I don’t deserve it, I can ask Him for the grace and the strength to forgive others – even when they don’t deserve it.
“Rarely will anyone die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves His love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.”
Romans 5:8 (NRSV)