PASSOVER SEASON IS IN PART ABOUT FORGIVENESS
HERE IS AN IMPORTANT SIDE TO THIS TOPIC
FROM THE BOOK "NELSON'S COMPLETE BOOK OF STORIES, ILLUSTRATIONS, AND QUOTES"
Someone Once Said
There is no forgiveness from God unless you freely forgive your brother from your heart. And I wonder if we have been too narrow in thinking that "brother" only applies to someone else. What if YOU are the brother or sister who needs to be forgiven and you need to forgive yourself?—David Seamands
"But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me Here; for God sent me before you to preserve life."—Joseph, in Genesis 45:5, to his brothers regarding the sins they committed against him years before.
You come to a point when you've prayed, you've asked forgiveness, you've done everything you can do. And you just decide you have to forgive yourself; stop brooding over it, and get on with life. That's all you can do—a school bus driver who accidentally ran over a child, killing her.
The Knife and the Scalpel
The knife sliced through the man's shirt like a razor, entering his back at the shoulder and cutting diagonally toward the spine. Skin and muscle melted like mutton before a cleaver. The shock paralyzed him, and searing pain tore through his body like currents of fire. He tried to scream, but the knife had punctured a lung. Being withdrawn, it was plunged in again. And again. The third plunge was most cruel, stabbing, carving, nicking spinal cord and puncturing heart. The victim twisted toward his attacker, seeing through anguished eyes the face of his betrayer.
Three times the scalpel lacerated the man's chest, scoring the skin, cutting along carefully drawn lines. Its surgical steel grew red. Flesh and fat separated, the chest opened. Soon the heart was bared.
Two knives. One in the hand of a killer, the other in the hand of a healer. One cut into the back, the other into the chest. Three stabs for the betrayal. Three for the surgery. The surgeon, being healed, was operating on the man who had attacked him.
This is the story found in Luke 22 and John 21.
Three times Peter stabbed Jesus in the back. And three times, Jesus cut Peter to the heart. The Lord knew that Peter's guilt and his sense of shame were blacker than coal. But he also knew that Peter would never become the bold and brilliant leader of the early church if he spent his days groping in the coal mines of guilt and moping in his mineshafts of shame. So he told him, in effect, to get over it. To put it behind him. To renew his love for his Master, and to get busy feeding the sheep.1
1. From a sermon by the author
Dr. Paul Brand, writing with Philip Yancey, told a story about his medical school administrator, a man named Mr. Barwick, who had a serious and painful circulation problem in his leg, but who refused to allow amputation. But finally, the pain became too great for him to bear, and Barwick cried at last, "I'm through with that leg. Take it off"
Surgery was scheduled immediately, but before the operation Barwick asked the doctor, "What do you do with legs after they're removed?"
"We may take a biopsy or explore them a bit, but afterwards we incinerate them."
"I would like you to preserve my leg in a pickling jar," said Barwick, to the surprise of all. "I will install it on my mantle shelf. Then, as I sit in my armchair, I will taunt that leg, 'Hah! You can't hurt me anymore!'"
Ultimately Barwick got his wish, but the despised leg had the last laugh.
Barwick suffered phantom limb pain of the worst degree. Somehow locked in his memory were the sensations associated with that leg. Even after the wound healed, Barwick could feel the torturous pressure of the swelling as the muscles cramped and itched and throbbed.
"He had hated the leg with such intensity that the pain had unaccountably lodged permanently in his brain," wrote Brand, who then added, "To me, phantom limb pain provides wonderful insight into the phenomenon of false guilt. Christians can be obsessed by the memory of some sin committed years ago. It never leaves them, crippling their ministry, their devotional life, their relationships with others."
Unless they experience the truth of 1 John 3:19-20 that 'God is greater than our conscience,' they become as pitiful as poor Mr. Barwick, shaking his fist in fury at the pickled leg on the mantel.1
1. Leadership Journal, Summer 1984, 55.
In his book, Healing for Damaged Emotions, David Seamands writes about a young minister who once came to see him. He was having a lot of problems getting along with other people, especially his wife and family. Seamands recalls: "I had already talked privately with his wife; she was a fine person—attractive, warm, affectionate, loving—and totally supported him in his ministry. But he was continually criticizing her, scapegoating her. Everything she did was wrong. He was sarcastic and demanding, and withdrew from her advances, rejecting her love and affection. Slowly but surely it began to dawn on him: he was destroying their marriage.
"Then he realized that in his weekend pastorate he was hurting people through sermons which were excessively harsh and judgmental. . . .
"Finally, in his desperation, he came to see me. At the beginning of our interview, he met trouble like a real man: he blamed it on his wife! But after a while, when be became honest, the painful root of the matter came to light.
"While he was in the armed forces in Korea, he had spent two weeks of R&R in Japan. During that leave, walking the streets of Tokyo, feeling empty, lonely, and terribly homesick, he fell into temptation and went three or four times to a prostitute.
"He had never been able to forgive himself. He had sought God's forgiveness, and with his head, believed he had it. But the guilt still plagued him, and he hated himself. Every time he looked in the mirror, he couldn't stand what he was seeing. He had never shared this with anyone, and the burden was becoming intolerable.
"When he returned home to marry his fiancee, who had faithfully waited for him all those years, his emotional conflicts increased because he still could not accept complete forgiveness. He couldn't forgive himself for what he had done to himself and to her; so he couldn't accept her freely offered affection and love. He felt he had no right to be happy.
"As A. W Tozer put it, the young minister was living in 'the perpetual penance of regret.'
"How beautiful it was to see him receive full, free forgiveness from God, then from his wife, and perhaps best of all, from himself.''1
1. Seamands, Healing for Damaged Emotions, 30-31.
There is no forgiveness from
God unless you freely forgive
your brother from your heart.
To Win As Many As He Had Killed
One of the earliest missionaries in Christian history was Columba, born in Ulster, Ireland, on December 7, A.D. 521. His grandfather had been baptized by St. Patrick himself, and Columba's parents were believers of royal stock. He possessed a powerful presence with strong features and an authoritative voice, but Columba was strong-willed and combative. His fiery temper and iron will caused problems.
One day, Columba copied the contents of a book without permission, and when the owner requested the copy Columba refused. The argument took on a life of its own, involving more and more people. Eventually a war erupted in which three thousand men lost their lives. Full of remorse, Columba sought and found the forgiveness of God. Then he committed himself to win as many to Christ as had died in the war. Thus he left Ireland at age forty-two to become a missionary to Scotland. With twelve companions, he established himself on Iona, a bleak, foggy island just off the Scottish coast, three miles long and a mile and a half wide. He built a crude monastery which soon became a training center for missionaries, one of the most venerable and interesting spots in the history of Christian missions. It was a lighthouse against heathenism.
From Iona, Columba made missionary forays into Scotland, converting large numbers. An entire tribe of pagans, the Picts, were won to the faith. He confronted the Druids, contesting with them over their alleged magical arts and demonic powers. He spent the rest of his life as the apostle to Scotland and as a trainer of missionaries. What motivated him? He considered himself a debtor. He felt obligated to win as many as he had destroyed.
Ashamed of Daddy
Mary Anna Martin grew up during the depression, but her family, despite its poverty, was rich in love and happiness. Her dad and mom were caring and tender parents, and laughter filled their home. Her father always whistled, and her mother sang while doing her housework. Her father was a baker, but he lost his bakery shop in the first years of the depression. He had to take any job he could to pay the family's rent and keep food on their table. He worked at the local YMCA for awhile, then with the WPA. When that job ran out, he found a job as a janitor. He was an older man, small and gray, and it was hard work. But he did his best and whistled as he worked.
Mary Anna said, "My life was happy and carefree until the year I left elementary school and started junior high. I was thirteen, and soon became part of a new group of friends. I knew that Daddy was a janitor, but I didn't know where, until that awful day during lunch break." Mary Anna was seated at a table with her new friends when she heard a teacher call her father's name in a loud voice. Someone had dropped their tray, and food and milk covered the table and floor. She saw him walk toward the table, carrying a mop and old rags. One of the girls said to Mary Anna, "That janitor has the same last name as yours. Do you know him?"
Mary Anna slowly raised her head and looked at the little gray man cleaning up the spilled food. She hesitated, then said, "I've never seen him before in my life." A wave of intense embarrassment swept over her, and she instantly felt ashamed of denying her dearest friend on earth. She hated herself for those words and tried to make up for what she had done by showing her father that she loved him more than ever. He loved for someone to brush his hair as he sat in his easy chair. She would do it. She sang to him and read to him and spent time with him. But regardless of how hard she tried, nothing made her feel better.
The years passed, and her father developed Alzheimer's disease. One day when he was ill and she was sitting with him, she started crying. Her mother asked her what was wrong, and Mary Anna poured out her heart and told her what had been bothering her for more than fifteen years. She said, "I have been asking God to forgive me, but I can't get over what I had done."
Her mother drew her close and held her tightly as she wept. "Honey," she said, "your daddy knew you loved him, and he would have loved you even if he had known about your being ashamed of him when you were so young. You know Simon Peter denied that he knew our beloved Jesus before he was crucified on the cross, and Jesus loved him just the same." Suddenly Mary Anna felt at peace with herself for the first time since she was in junior high. She knew that because of the love of Christ, it was time to turn the corner.1
1. Mary Anna Martin, "I Was Ashamed of My Daddy," Mature Living, February 1996, 36-38.
Guilt and Shame
In terms of sheer numbers, using the King James Version, the words shame, ashamed, and their derivatives far outdo guilt and guilty. The former are mentioned 224 times in the Bible, and the latter 23 times.
In Decision Magazine, Mark Strand tells of an experience that occurred following his first year of college. His dad and mom had left for vacation, and Mark wrecked their pickup truck, crumpling the passenger-side door. Returning home, he parked the truck. When his dad returned home and saw the damage, Mark acted surprised and denied any knowledge of the accident. Mr. Strand then asked the hired man about it, and to Mark's delight, the man admitted he was responsible. He had heard a loud noise while passing the truck with the wings of the cultivator up, and now he assumed he had caused the damage.
But the weeks that followed were torturous as Mark struggled with his guilty conscience. He repeatedly considered telling the truth, but was afraid. Finally one day he impulsively blurted it out.
"Dad, there's something I need to tell you."
"You know that pickup door? I was the one who did it."
Dad looked at me. I looked back at him. For the first time in weeks I was able to look him in the eyes as the topic was broached. To my utter disbelief, Dad calmly replied, "I know."
Silent seconds, which seemed like hours, passed. Then dad said, "Let's go eat." He put his arm around my shoulder, and we walked to the house, not saying another word about it. Not then, not ever.2
2 Mark Strand, "I Couldn't Forget That Door," Decision, December 1996, 19.
Lord of the Compost Heap
Joseph Bayly wrote the following in Psalms for My Life:
Lord of the compost heap
you take garbage
and turn it into
soil good soil
for seeds to root
with wildest increase
flowers to bloom
with brilliant beauty.
Take all the garbage
of my life,
Lord of the compost heap,
turn it into
soil good soil
and then plant seeds
to bring forth
fruit and beauty
1. Joseph Baylt, "Psalms for My Life," Christianity Today, January 15, 1988, 35.
Someone Once Said…..
Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.—C. S. Lewis. 2
A Christian will find it cheaper to pardon than to resent. Forgiveness saves the expense of anger, the cost of hatred, the waste of spirits.—Hannah More
It is a great thing to be a really good forgiver.—F. W. Boreham. 3
When you bury the hatchet, don't bury it in your neighbor's back.—Anonymous
The sin of un-forgiveness is a cancer that destroys relationships, eats away at one's own psyche, and—worst of all—shuts us off from God's grace.—Robertson McQuillan. 4
Doing an injury puts you below your enemy; revenging one, makes you even with him; forgiving it sets you above him.—Anonymous
2. C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1958), 89.
3. F. W. Boreham, The Other Side of the Hill (London: Epworth Press, 1917), 240.
4. Robertson McQuillan, The Two Sides of Forgiveness, (Columbia International University), 1
Real forgiveness means looking steadily at the sin, the sin that is left over without any excuse, after all allowances have been made, and seeing it in all its horror, dirt, meanness and malice, and nevertheless being wholly reconciled to the man who has done it.—C. S. Lewis
Every cat knows some things need to be buried.—Ruth Bell Graham. 1
1. Ruth Bell Graham, Legacy of a Pack Rat (Nashville: Oliver Nelson, 1989), 172.
In her autobiographical book Climbing missionary Rosalind Goforth tells of the internal rage she harbored against someone who had greatly harmed her and her husband, Jonathan. It was a serious injury which the couple would never afterward talk about, but while Jonathan seemed to easily forgive the offender, Rosalind refused to do so.
For more than a year, she would not talk to nor recognize that person who lived near them on their missionary station in China; four years passed and the matter remained unresolved and, to an extent, forgotten.
One day the Goforths were traveling by train to a religious meeting elsewhere in China. For months, Rosalind had felt a lack of power in her Christian life and ministry, and in her train compartment she bowed her head and cried to God to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Unmistakably clear came the Inner Voice, "Write to (the one toward whom I felt hatred and un-forgiveness) and ask forgiveness for the way you have treated him." My whole soul cried out "Never!" Again I prayed as before, and again the Inner Voice spoke clearly as before. Again I cried out in my heart, "Never; never. I will never forgive him!" When for the third time this was repeated, I jumped to my feet and said to myself "I'll give it all up, for I'll never, never forgive!"
One day afterward, Rosalind was reading to the children from Pilgrim's Progress. It was the passage in which a man in a cage moans, "I have grieved the Spirit, and He is gone: I have provoked God to anger, and He has left me." Instantly a terrible conviction came upon her, and for two days and nights she felt in terrible despair.
Finally, talking late at night with a fellow missionary, a young widower, she burst into sobs and told him the whole story. "But Mrs. Goforth," he said, "are you willing to write the letter?"
At length she replied, "Yes."
"Then go at once and write it."
Rosalind jumped up, ran into the house, and wrote a few lines of humble apology for her actions, without any reference to his. The joy and peace of her Christian life returned.
"From that time," Rosalind wrote in her autobiography, "I have never dared not to forgive." 1
1. Rosalind Goforth, Climbing: Memories of a Missionary's Wife (Wheaton, EL: Sword Book Club, 1940), 99-102.
Carrying a Grudge
The great Methodist pastor Charles Allen wrote that, when he was in the fourth grade, the superintendent of the school mistreated him. There was no doubt about it. It was a deliberate wrong which the man committed because he had fallen out with Charles' father.
The Aliens moved from that town, and the years passed.
One day during Charles' first pastorate, he heard that his old antagonist was seeking a job with the schools in the area. Charles knew that as soon as he told his friends on the school board about the man, they would not hire him.
I went out to get in my car to go see some of the board members and suddenly it came over me what I had done. Here I was out trying to represent Him who was nailed to the Cross and me carrying a grudge. That realization was a humiliating experience. I went back into my house, knelt by my bedside, and said, "Lord, if you will forgive me of this, I will never be guilty any more." That experience and that promise are among the best things that ever happened in my life. 2
2. Charles Allen, The Miracle of Love (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1972), 38.
What Does It Mean to Forgive Another?
In his book Caring Enough To Forgive / Caring Enough To Not Forgive, David Augsburger suggests that forgiveness is a "journey of many steps" taken carefully and thoughtfully, the steps including:
1. To see the other as having worth again, regardless of wrongdoing;
2. To see the other as equally precious again, in spite of the pain felt;
3. To cancel demands on the past, recognizing that changing the unchangeable is impossible.
4. To work through the anger and pain felt by both in reciprocal trusting and risking until genuineness in intention is perceived and repentance is seen by both to be authentic.
5. To drop the demands for an ironclad guarantee of future behaviour.
6. To touch each other deeply, to feel moved by warmth, love, compassion, to celebrate it in mutual recognition that right relationships have been achieved.1
1. David Augsbuxger, Caring Enough To Forgive / Caring Enough To Not Forgive (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1981), 31.
To Send Away
Matthew, in recording a section of the Lord's Prayer, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors," used the word aphiemi for forgive. It means to send away. This is the same word used in Luke 4:39 when Jesus rebuked the fever in Peter's mother-in-law. That is the kind of forgiveness Psalm 103:12 describes as God removing our transgressions "as far as the East is from the West."
The Hidden Root of Burnout
According to the Minirth and Meier book How To Beat Burnout, resentment is far more responsible for burnout than overwork. "In our counseling ministries, we have seen literally hundreds of examples that verify a close connection between bitterness and resentment and the experience of symptoms that we call burnout.... Bitterness leads to burnout... and freedom from bitterness is necessary for effective recovery from burnout." 2
2. Frank Minirth, Don Hawkins, Paul Meier, and Richard Flournoy, How To Beat Burnout (Chicago: Moody Press, 1986), 48.
Clara Barton's Attitude
Clara Barton never harbored resentments. One time a friend recalled to her a cruel thing that had happened to her some years previously, but Clara seemed not to remember it.
"Don't you remember the wrong that was done to you?" asked the friend.
"No," answered Clara. "I distinctly remember forgetting that."
He that doth not forgive burns the bridge over which he himself must needs pass.
Forgiving His Son's Murderer
Rev. Walter H. Everett answered the phone, unprepared for the words he heard: "Scott was murdered last night." Walter's anger toward his son's killer raged through him like a violent riptide, growing even worse when a plea bargain resulted in a reduced sentence for the attacker.
My rage was affecting my entire life. "How am I going to let go of this anger?" I wondered. The answer came the first time I saw Mike, almost a year after Scott's death. Mike stood in court prior to his sentencing and said he was truly sorry for what he had done.
Three-and-a-half weeks later, on the first anniversary of Scott's death, I wrote to Mike. I told him about my anger and asked some pointed questions. Then I wrote, "Having said all that, I want to thank you for what you said in court, and as hard as these words are for me to write, I forgive you." I wrote of God's love in Christ and invited Mike to write to me if he wished.
Three weeks later his letter arrived. He said that when he had read my letter, he couldn't believe it. No one had ever said to him, "I forgive you." That night he had knelt beside his bunk and prayed for, and received, the forgiveness of Jesus Christ.
Additional correspondence led to regular visits during which we spoke often of Mike's (and my) growing relationship with Christ. Later I spoke on Mike's behalf before a parole board, and he was given an early release. In November 1994, I was the officiating minister at his wedding.
When asked about his early release, Mike says, "It felt good, but I was already out of prison. God had set me free when I asked for his forgiveness."
Can I truly forgive? I had wondered if it were possible. But I've discovered the meaning of the Apostle Paul's words: "For freedom Christ has set us free." 1
1. Walter H. Everett, "Forgiving The Man Who Killed My Son," Decision, December 1996, 32.
The Unfrozen Hand
Writing in Christianity Today, Professor Lewis B. Smedes relates a story about Corrie Ten Boom to illustrate the power of forgiveness:
She was stuck for the war years in a concentration camp, humiliated and degraded, especially in the delousing shower where the women were ogled by the leering guards. But she made it through that hell. And eventually she felt she had, by grace, forgiven even those fiends who guarded the shower stalls.
So she preached forgiveness, for individuals, for all of Europe. She preached it in Blbemendaal, in the United States, and, one Sunday, in Munich. After the sermon, greeting people, she saw a man come toward her, hand outstretched: "fa, Frdulein, it is wonderful that Jesus forgives us all our sins, just as you say." She remembered his face; it was the leering, lecherous, mocking face of an SS guard of the shower stall.
Her hand froze by her side. She could not forgive. She thought she had forgiven all. But she could not forgive when she met a guard, standing in the solid flesh in front of her. Ashamed, horrified at herself she prayed, "Lord, forgive me, I cannot forgive." And as she prayed she felt forgiven, accepted, in spite of her shabby performance as a famous forgiver.
Her hand was suddenly unfrozen. The ice of hate melted. Her hand went out. She forgave as she was forgiven. 1
1. Lewis B. Smedes, "Forgiveness: The Power to Change the Past," Christianity Today, January 7, 1983, 26.
As Reported on CNN
Never before, say some experts, has there been such a need to forgive what seems to be the unforgivable.
Studies funded by the Templeton Forgiveness Research Campaign are trying to monitor and measure the physiological effects of forgiveness and its benefits, taken from the pulpit into the lab.
Everett Worthington is the director of the campaign. One day after mailing off his manuscript outlining a step-by-step process of forgiveness, his own ability was sorely tested when his mother was murdered.
"I remember looking down at the wall, seeing a baseball bat and saying 'I wish that whoever did this was here right now. I would beat his brains out,'" Worthington said.
Instead, Worthington took his own medicine, focusing on what he considers the most important component of forgiveness—empathy. In this case, for the burglar who killed his mother.
"I can imagine what it must have been like for this kid to hear behind him a voice saying something like, 'What are you doing here?'" he said.
By understanding how it might have happened, Worthington says he's been able to forgive his mother's murderer.
"I cannot imprison him by holding un-forgiveness towards him," he said. Researchers say there is a physiological reason for forgiveness—health.
At Hope College in Michigan, researchers measure heart rates, sweat rates, and other responses of subjects when asked to remember past slights.
"Their blood pressure increases, their heart rate increases, and the muscle tensions are also higher" said professor Charlotte van Oyen Witvliet. This suggests their stress responses are greater during their unforgiving than forgiving conditions. Scientists also find that forgiveness has a lot to do with genetics. Research in chimpanzees shows it might even be crucial for survival of the species.
"In a cooperative system, it is possible that your biggest rival is someone who you will need tomorrow," said Frans De Waal of Emory University's Yerks Primate Center. 1
1. Eileen O'Connor, "Forgiveness Heals the Heart, Research Hints," CNN, May 20, 1999.
Forgive Everyone of Everything?
In his excellent work, The Two Sides of Forgiveness, Robertson McQuillan questions the common conventional wisdom that we should forgive everyone of everything. He writes:
God's love is unlimited, for everyone. Ours ought to be. But God's forgiveness is strictly limited to those who repent. Confusion and guilt overwhelm many of God's people who demand that we do what God does not do—pardon everyone for everything.
We can justify this distinction by returning to the two basic meanings of forgive: to remit the guilt and to relinquish resentment. In the sense of remitting guilt, God, in love, forgives a specified few and, in love, does not forgive the majority of humankind. In the sense of relinquishing resentment, however, God forgives everyone. He never for a moment felt bitterness or ill-will against anyone....
Love should also shape the way we relate to people, whether friend or enemy. Does love cancel the debt? Sometimes. Does love let go of the resentment? Always. 2
2. McQuillan, The Two Sides of Forgiveness, (2-3).
Forgiveness Unclogs a Pipeline
Victor Guaminga, an Ecuadorian Christian, is a World Vision project coordinator in his own country. Wanting to eradicate water-borne diseases in his home village, Laime Chico, Victor developed a plan for building a pipeline to supply the villagers with clean, drinkable water from a source some distance away.
Unfortunately, the best path for such a pipeline was right through Laime San Carlos, a rival village—one with which Victor's village had a long-lasting feud.
When certain implacable enemies in the rival village heard about the proposed water line, they made it known that they would destroy any pipes laid for that purpose. Therefore, the whole plan was stymied.
In spite of their neighbors' hostility, however, Christians in Victor's village, knowing that the other village had no church, decided to conduct an evangelistic effort there.
Doing so was both difficult and dangerous. Not many of the rival village's people paid any attention to the evangelizers. But four did respond to the gospel message and became believers in Christ.
After being spiritually nurtured by believers from Victor's church, the four converts became faithful witnesses to others in their own village. Slowly, a church formed there also.
Eventually the very man who had most vehemently opposed the water project became a believer himself. Seeing, then, how wrong his attitude had been, he asked forgiveness and gave his cooperation to the project.
Five years after that project in Ecuador was proposed, clean, drinkable water flowed through dependable pipes not only to Victor's village but to the formerly hostile one, plus two other nearby villages. And now there are growing churches in all four places. 1
1. "Example in Ecuador: Forgiveness Unclogs a Pipeline," World Vision, February-March 1986, 18.
Bats Out of Hell
Mitsuo Fuchida, commander of the Japanese Air Force, led the squadron of 860 planes that attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
American bomber Jacob DeShazer was eager to strike back, and the following April 18th, he flew his B-25 Bomber, the Bat Out of Hell, on a dangerous raid over Japan. After dropping his bombs on Nagoya, DeShazer lost his way in heavy fog and ejected as his plane ran out of fuel. He was taken prisoner, tortured by the Japanese, and threatened with imminent death. For almost two years, DeShazer suffered hunger, cold, and dysentery.
In May of 1944, he was given a Bible. "You can keep it for three weeks," said the guard. DeShazer grabbed it, clutched it to his chest, and started reading in Genesis. Scarcely sleeping, he read the Bible through several times, memorizing key passages. On June 8, after reading to Romans 10:9, Jacob prayed to receive Jesus Christ as his Savior.
Immediately Matthew 5:44 became a critical text for DeShazer as he determined to treat his Japanese guards differently. His hostility toward them evaporated, and every morning he greeted them warmly. He prayed for them and sought to witness to them. He noticed their attitude toward him also changed, and they would often slip him food or supplies.
After the war, DeShazer returned to Japan as a missionary. Copies of his testimony, "I Was a Prisoner of the Japanese," flooded the country, and thousands wanted to see the man who could love and forgive his enemies. DeShazer settled down to establish a church in Nagoya, the city he had bombed.
One man in particular, deeply affected by DeShazer's testimony, was led to Christ by Glenn Wagner of the Pocket Testament League. Shortly afterward, the man paid a visit to Jacob DeShazer at his home, and the two became dear friends and brothers. It was Mitsuo Fuchida, who had led the Pearl Harbor attack. As DeShazer served as missionary in Japan, Fuchida became a powerful evangelist, preaching throughout Japan and around the world. 1
1. Robert J. Morgan, From This Verse (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1998), June 28th.
Good and Bad Forgivers
In his delightful volume, The Other Side of the Hill, F. W. Boreham calls forgiveness "one of the highest arts of life," and he suggests that some people are good forgivers, and others are poor forgivers. He gives an example of both from history:
[A] The Poor Forgiver
When John Wesley was traveling by ship to America he heard an unusual noise in the cabin of General Oglethorpe, the Governor of Georgia. Wesley stepped in to inquire. It turned out that Grimaldi, the Governor's servant, had devoured the entire stock of the great man's favorite wine. "But I will be avenged!" cried the Governor, who ordered the poor man tied hand and foot to be carried away for severe punishment. "For you know, Mr. Wesley" stormed Oglethorpe, "I never forgive!"
"In that case, sir," replied Wesley, "I hope you never sin!"
The General was quite confounded at the reproof, and putting his hand into his pocket book, took out a bunch of keys, which he threw at Grimaldi, saying, "There, villain, take my keys and behave better in the future."
His forgiveness, such as it was, was poor indeed.
[B] The Good Forgiver
Boreham contrasts that with the example of William Gladstone, Prime Minister of England. Once, when Gladstone was Chancellor of the Exchequer, he sent down to the Treasury office for a sheaf of statistics on which he based his budget proposals. Now it happened that, in compiling the statistics, the clerk had made a mistake that vitally affected the entire situation. The blunder was only discovered after Gladstone had elaborated his proposals and made his budget speech in the House of Commons. The papers immediately exposed the fallacy, and for a moment the Chancellor was overwhelmed with embarrassment. He was made to appear ridiculous before the entire nation.
He sent down to the Treasury for the clerk to come to him at once. The clerk duly arrived, trembling with apprehension, and expecting instant dismissal. He began to stammer out his apologies, and his entreaty for forgiveness. Mr. Gladstone stopped him. "I sent for you," he said, "because I could imagine the torture of your feelings. You have been for many years dealing with the bewildering intricacies of the national accounts, and you have done your work with such conscientious exactness that this is your first mistake. It was because of your splendid record that I did not trouble to verify your calculations. I have sent for you to compliment you on that record and to set you at ease."
"If the New Testament means anything," commented R W. Boreham, "it means that a man who can forgive with such gallantry and chivalry is a very great Christian indeed." 1
1. Boreham, The Other Side of the Hill, 242-243.
The manager of an IBM project that lost $10 million before it was scrapped was called into a meeting at the corporate office.
"I suppose you want my resignation?" he asked.
"Resignation nothing!" replied his boss. "We've just spent $10 million educating you." 2
2. Alan Loy McGinnis, The Power of Optimism (San Francisco: Harper and Row Publishers, 1990, 128.
A four-year-old was praying one night, having been listening at church: "And forgive us our trashbaskets as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets."
NOW THERE ARE SOME SUPER EXAMPLES OF NEEDING TO FORGIVE YOURSELF AND TO FORGIVE OTHERS!