But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins" (Matthew 6:15).
Corrie ten Boom (1892-1983) 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 behind a false wall in Corrie's bedroom. 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. Afterwards, 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 changed hundreds of thousands of lives 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?