grace, for dealing with people



People hurt us. People’s words hurt us, and the things they do hurt us.

And we just can’t forget. We just *can’t* forget what they did to us, oh, that crime is just too big to even forgive.

But what ever happened to ‘forgiving those who trespass against us’? Does the Lord really expect us to show grace to those who do us harm?

There once was a woman who wondered the same thing, after the time of war in Germany and that evil man who would crush & torture God’s people. And this is her story …

      “It was in a church in Munich that I saw him—a balding, heavyset man in a gray overcoat, a brown felt hat clutched between his hands. People were filing out of the basement room where I had just spoken, moving along the rows of wooden chairs to the door at the rear.

It was 1947 and I had come from Holland to defeated Germany with the message that God forgives.

It was the truth they needed most to hear in that bitter, bombed-out land, and I gave them my favorite mental picture. Maybe because the sea is never far from a Hollander’s mind, I liked to think that that’s where forgiven sins were thrown. ‘When we confess our sins,’ I said, ‘God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever. …’

The solemn faces stared back at me, not quite daring to believe. There were never questions after a talk in Germany in 1947.

People stood up in silence, in silence collected their wraps, in silence left the room.

“And that’s when I saw him, working his way forward against the others. 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. I could see my sister’s frail form ahead of me, ribs sharp beneath the parchment skin. Betsie, how thin you were!

“Now he was in front of me, hand thrust out: ‘A fine message, Fräulein! 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. Fräulein,’ again the hand came out—’will you forgive me?’
And I stood there—I whose sins had again and again to be forgiven—and could not forgive. Betsie had died in that place—could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking?

It could not have been many seconds that he stood there—hand held out—but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.

For I had to do it—I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us.

‘If you do not forgive men their trespasses,’ Jesus says, ‘neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.’

I knew it not only as a commandment of God, but as a daily experience. Since the end of the war I had had a home in Holland for victims of Nazi brutality. Those who were able to forgive their former enemies were able also to return to the outside world and rebuild their lives, no matter what the physical scars. Those who nursed their bitterness remained invalids. It was as simple and as horrible as that.

And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion—I knew that too.
Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.

‘… Help!’ I prayed silently. ‘I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.’

And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.

‘I forgive you, brother!’ I cried. ‘With all my heart!’

For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely, as I did then…

But even so, I realized it was not my love. I tried and did not have the power. It was the power of the Holy Spirit as recorded in Romans 5:5… “because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us.” “

~ from Corrie ten Boom in Tramp for the Lord

Corrie ten Boom wasn’t perfect. She was made of bones and flesh, and faced temptations just like you or I do. But she still learned that lost art of showing God’s unfailing grace to those who deserve it the least.

Just like we have hurt God, over and over again, He still loves us, He still shows us His mercy & grace. And, you know what? We don’t really deserve it either.

It’s a way to share the gospel, to witness, to those who don’t know Christ.

Just like the martyrs.

The martyrs never fought back against their persecuters, but boasted in Jesus Christ alone and showed off His grace, love, and forgiveness to those who hurt them.

And then great things happened. Things like prison guards falling to their knees in prayer before the most High God, and when kings and nobles and whole countries bowed their heads in worship of the King of Kings.

Could there be a greater reward for giving grace?

“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” 

~ Colossians 4:6 NKJV

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Below is one of my favorite sermons, by Eric Ludy, on this very issue. To warn you, it is 1 1/2 hour long , but well worth it, and I can guarantee that you will not only enjoy it, but will be refreshed & challenged to show that Christ-like grace to those around you. 🙂

breaking free (rom. 6)


“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?

Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

… knowing this, that our old man was crucified with [Him], that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.

For he who has died has been freed from sin.

 … Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord … For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!

Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin [leading] to death, or of obedience [leading] to righteousness? But God be thanked that [though] you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.

And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin [is] death, but the gift of God [is] eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. “

~ Romans 6, NKJV

I did not do this. For a long time, at the end of the day, I would always whisper ,”Tomorrow,” and did nothing about my sin. I was guilty, and in pain, but I just Couldn’t. Let. Go. Not on my own.

I tried. I can at least say I tried, with my own power, with my own strength, determination. I mean, don’t those words make sense to the soul, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”? If I tried, if I really, really tried, I could overcome my sin. No problem.

Until it was.

But I tried. I tried my darn hardest, but I would only just fail and fail all over again, and why, Lord, is this not working? I tried again. And failed. Tried some more. Failed. And I would *not* learn my lesson that, just maybe, I couldn’t do it on my own?

I tried and tried. And for a while I succeeded. But that did not last long.

You see, I’ve always been the independent kind of girl. I don’t take help from anyone, no matter how much I need it. If you ask for help, I will jump up and help you immediately, no questions asked. But you help me? Nuh uh. Noooo way will I ever let you do that. I’m strong enough. I’m capable enough. I can do it, gee wiz. Why do people doubt me?

But someone can do that for only so long, until they break.

But I don’t break, I can’t break, I won’t let myself break. I’ll stand firm, I’ll stay strong, I’ll overcome this, by golly, and no, God, I don’t need Your help, I don’t want Your help, and I don’t need You, I sputter.

But you do, My princess.

These words of His caress my weary soul, as my lip quivers and tears of surrender trickle down my cheeks. Because I know I do, and I know every word, every denial for help is slowly & painfully breaking me. It’s a form of torture, really.

And I couldn’t go on any longer like this.

So I closed my eyes, whispered a prayer from the heart, and reached out my hand.

And I break free from my bonds.

I don’t know much about this thing called grace, the hows and the whys, but I know that I need it, and it’s something I could never live without. It’s something I can’t get until I completely dump my worries, my sin, my fears, my guilt, and, really, everything, at the foot of the Cross, that place where grace and suffering meet. And it’s not a one time thing, where you do this and that’s it.


It’s something you have to do every year, every day, every hour, every moment. Every day you throw your cares and concerns, and run with reckless abandon to the One whom your soul loves. That’s the meaning of, “Go, and sin no more.”

To this day, I still struggle, I still sin, I still flail in the flood of chaos and corruption, but I always know where to turn to.

And, because of this, my life couldn’t be any better. And I close my eyes and worship Him until the day He takes me home.