“In the meantime I collected all the money from my friends and all I had myself, and it was exactly 600 guilders. I gave it to him to save the life of his wife.
“But he was a betrayer. His wife had not been arrested. The enemy had told him to find out whether I helped Jewish people.
“So this man thought that at the same time he could make some money out of this situation. He went home with 600 guilders in his pocket. But five minutes later the enemy came, and my whole family was arrested.
“Later, when I heard that this man had betrayed us, hatred came into my heart, just as it happened with you. I had given him the last money I had. But then I read in the Bible that hatred is really murder in God’s eyes (see Matt. 5:21-22).
“How glad I was that I knew what I could do against hatred. The Bible says, ‘The blood of Jesus Christ [God’s] Son cleanses us from all sin. ... If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’ (1 John 1:7-9).
“I brought my hatred to Jesus. He forgave me and cleansed my heart with His blood.
“After the war this betrayer was sentenced to death. I wrote to him: ‘What you have done through your betrayal caused the death of my 84-year-old father, my brother, his son and my sister in prison. I myself have suffered terribly through your fault, but I have forgiven you everything. This is just a very little example of the forgiveness and love of Jesus. He lives in my heart; that is why I can forgive you.
‘Jesus will also come into your heart and will make you a child of God. Confess your sins to Him. On the cross of Calvary He has finished all for your sins and mine.’
“Later he wrote me: ‘I have prayed: “Jesus, when You can give such a love for the enemy in the heart of someone who follows You, then there is hope for me.” I have indeed confessed my sins to Him. Now I know that I am a child of God, cleansed by the blood of Jesus.’
“So you see that Jesus used me to save the soul of this same man I had hated so much. Do you know that if you do not forgive, you do not receive forgiveness?
“Jesus said: ‘For if you forgive other people their failures, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you will not forgive other people, neither will your Heavenly Father forgive you your failures’ (Matt. 6:14-15, The New Testament in Modern English). You cannot do that, neither can I, but Jesus can!”
That same day the African prisoner sent a message to his wife: “Forgive my murderers. You are not able to do it, I am not able, but Jesus is able. If we are not willing, then we ourselves do not receive forgiveness.”
When Jesus comes and we have bitterness, yes, even hatred in our hearts, then we will not be ready to meet Him with a clean heart. “Everyone who has at heart a hope like that keeps himself pure, for he knows how pure Christ is” (1 John 3:3).
In the time of the final battle, many will be filled with hatred. If we are not cleansed from bitterness, then we will not stand on victory ground.
It is one of the laws of the kingdom of God that men receive peace only if they are always ready to forgive unreservedly. We never touch the love of God so much as when we love our enemies.
But we don’t have to do it ourselves. The Bible says, “The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom. 5:5, NKJV). God does the job. Hallelujah!
Corrie ten Boom (1892-1983) spent 10 months in a concentration camp during World War II for helping to hide Jews. For 40 years after her release, she shared the love of God with millions around the world through speaking and writing.
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