Category Archives: Forgivenness

What Auschwitz survivor Eva Kor teaches us about forgiveness

Oskar Groening is a sad and guilty man. How guilty is for the court to decide: he is on trial accused of complicity in the murder of 300,000 people in Auschwitz during the war.

The ‘bookkeeper of Auschwitz’ – his responsibilities included counting confiscated money – has not denied being there or the fact that he is morally guilty. Whether he was criminally guilty, he says, is for the court to decide.

Groening has talked openly about his past and been vocal in his attempts to combat Holocaust deniers. But he was there: he didn’t like it, but he didn’t resist and he didn’t walk out.

Eva Kor was at Auschwitz, too. But she was a child, there with her twin, and was subjected to experiments by SS officer and physician Joseph Mengele. Yesterday she was pictured at the trial in an embrace with Groening. It was initiated by him and she wrote on Facebook, “I probably wouldn’t have gone that far,” but she tweeted a picture with the caption: “Two old people reaching out.”

She also wrote this: “I know many people will criticize me for this photo, but so be it. It was two human beings seventy years after it happened. For the life of me I will never understand why anger is preferable to a goodwill gesture. Nothing good ever comes from anger. Any goodwill gesture in my book will win over anger any time. The energy that anger creates is a violent energy.”

Former Nazi asks for forgiveness at Holocaust trial
Dietrich Bonhoeffer 70 years on: 10 quotes you need to read
Mark Woods: A lesson from Auschwitz
What to do with the fast-diminishing number of potential Nazi war criminals is a vast and vexed question. Some say that guilt is guilt, and that there’s no statute of limitations on murder. Others are uneasy about the might of a legal system being brought to bear on a frail and repentant old man so long after the event, when so many others escaped justice or went deliberately unpunished.

Eva Kor is one of the few remaining with the unquestionable right to an opinion. Her long Facebook post – and many other utterances during a life spent seeking to heal wounds and bring reconciliation – shows her to be deeply reflective, with a desire to remember truthfully as well as to speak words of grace.

But it is the embrace that speaks most powerfully of all.

She writes: “Everything he is accused of – I am saying he did all that. I told him that my forgiveness did not prevent me from accusing him nor from him taking responsibility for his actions… But obviously he is a human being. His response to me is exactly what I was talking about when I said you cannot predict what will happen when someone from the victims’ side and someone from the perpetrators’ side meet in a spirit of humanity.”

Kor’s words and actions resonate so powerfully because they come from the depths of an experience which has scarred European history forever. But if they were only about the past, they would be of little use. She is much more of a challenge than that. There is, in some people’s minds, something profoundly offensive about her act of forgiveness. Her embrace represents a sort of moral dislocation; as though recognising the common ‘spirit of humanity’ shared by her and Groening is in fact a lack of moral seriousness.

In other contexts, between other people, it may be: there is nothing praiseworthy about a failure to judge and name sin for what it is. But that’s not what happened in that embrace.

The challenge is to allow that perception of shared humanity to speak into other situations too, which are newer and more raw – and not just the egregious violence of Islamic State or Boko Haram, but the small violences done by human beings to the minds and spirits of one another just because they can. Anger is a terribly potent force. The desire to retaliate, to hurt as we have been hurt, is fatally strong. But a grace-filled will can override the instinct to harm, and create moments of inspirational healing.

Christians are not good at understanding forgiveness. It is too often imposed as a duty, with no real comprehension of its psychological cost – and especially when there has been no acknowledgment of sin. But Eva Kor and Oscar Groening embraced. Sometimes a relationship can be restored and healing can begin.



Quoted from:

Prodigals and Forgivenness

I’ve read the story of the prodigal son, Father, and I realise that, as far as you’re concerned, repentance is a joyful thing. We confess our sins and you throw your arms around us. Big party – great stuff! But, Lord, some of us are diseased with this guilt thing. We’ve grown up with it, we’re weighed down with it, we can’t get rid of it. Far from saying we have no sin, we don’t accept forgiveness when it’s offered to us. We need to come within the orbit of your fondness, Father – to know that the wanting of us is really real. We need to feel clean as well as being clean. Thank you for being so nice. Work a little miracle so we can believe that, as well as saying it. Then we shall have something to say to the ones who don’t connect their sin with you at all. Amen
By Adrian Plass (I don’t know where from as I was given this quote without any reference)

I Have Nobody To Forgive Me

Not long before she died in 1988, in a moment of surprising candor in television, Marghanita Laski, one of our best-known secular humanists and novelists, said, “What I envy most about you Christians is your forgiveness; I have nobody to forgive me.”
John Stott

Sacrificial Love Has Transforming Power

In “The Christian Leader,” Don Ratzlaff retells a story Vernon Grounds came across in Ernest Gordon’s Miracle on the River Kwai. The Scottish soldiers, forced by their Japanese captors to labor on a jungle railroad, had degenerated to barbarous behavior, but one afternoon something happened. A shovel was missing. The officer in charge became enraged. He demanded that the missing shovel be produced, or else. When nobody in the squadron budged, the officer got his gun and threatened to kill them all on the spot . . . It was obvious the officer meant what he had said. Then, finally, one man stepped forward. The officer put away his gun, picked up a shovel, and beat the man to death. When it was over, the survivors picked up the bloody corpse and carried it with them to the second tool check. This time, no shovel was missing. Indeed, there had been a miscount at the first check point. The word spread like wildfire through the whole camp. An innocent man had been willing to die to save the others! . . . The incident had a profound effect. . . The men began to treat each other like brothers. When the victorious Allies swept in, the survivors, human skeletons, lined up in front of their captors (and instead of attacking their captors) insisted: “No more hatred. No more killing. Now what we need is forgiveness.” Sacrificial love has transforming power.

Let bitterness take root and poison the rest of our life

In his book. Lee: The Last Years, Charles Bracelen Flood reports that after the Civil War, Robert E. Lee visited a Kentucky lady who took him to the remains of a grand old tree in front of her house. There she bitterly cried that its limbs and trunk had been destroyed by Federal artillery fire. She looked to Lee for a word condemning the North or at least sympathizing with her loss. After a brief silence, Lee said, “Cut it down, my dear Madam, and forget it.” It is better to forgive the injustices of the past than to allow them to remain, let bitterness take root and poison the rest of our life.

Robert Bruce

In the 14th century, Robert Bruce of Scotland was leading his men in a battle to gain independence from England. Near the end of the conflict, the English wanted to capture Bruce to keep him from the Scottish crown. So they put his own bloodhounds on his trail. When the bloodhounds got close, Bruce could hear their baying. His attendant said, “We are done for. They are on your trail, and they will reveal your hiding place.” Bruce replied, “It’s all right.” Then he headed for a stream that flowed through the forest. He plunged in and waded upstream a short distance. When he came out on the other bank, he was in the depths of the forest. Within minutes, the hounds, tracing their master’s steps, came to the bank. They went no farther. The English soldiers urged them on, but the trail was broken. The stream had carried the scent away. A short time later, the crown of Scotland rested on the head of Robert Bruce. The memory of our sins, prodded on by Satan, can be like those baying dogs–but a stream flows, red with the blood of God’s own Son. By grace through faith we are safe. No sin-hound can touch us. The trail is broken by the precious blood of Christ. “The purpose of the cross,” someone observed, “is to repair the irreparable.”
E. Lutzer, Putting Your Past Behind You, Here’s Life, 1990, p.42 – quoted off the Internet

All Is Forgiven I Love You

There’s a Spanish story of a father and son who had become estranged. The son ran away, and the father set off to find him. He searched for months to no avail. Finally, in a last desperate effort to find him, the father put an ad in a Madrid newspaper. The ad read: Dear Paco, meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father. On Saturday 800 Pacos showed up, looking for forgiveness and love from their fathers.
Bits & Pieces, October 15, 1992, Page 13

The Bell Keeps On Swinging

Corrie ten Boom told of not being able to forget a wrong that had been done to her. She had forgiven the person, but she kept rehashing the incident and so couldn’t sleep. Finally Corrie cried out to God for help in putting the problem to rest. “His help came in the form of a kindly Lutheran pastor,” Corrie wrote, “to whom I confessed my failure after two sleepless weeks.” “Up in the church tower,” he said, nodding out the window, “is a bell which is rung by pulling on a rope. But you know what? After the sexton lets go of the rope, the bell keeps on swinging. First ding, then dong. Slower and slower until there’s a final dong and it stops. I believe the same thing is true of forgiveness. When we forgive, we take our hand off the rope. But if we’ve been tugging at our grievances for a long time, we mustn’t be surprised if the old angry thoughts keep coming for a while. They’re just the ding-dongs of the old bell slowing down.” “And so it proved to be. There were a few more midnight reverberations, a couple of dings when the subject came up in my conversations, but the force — which was my willingness in the matter — had gone out of them. They came less and less often and at the last stopped altogether: we can trust God not only above our emotions, but also above our thoughts.”

I Have No Enemies

When Narvaez, the Spanish patriot, lay dying, his father-confessor asked him whether he had forgiven all his enemies. Narvaez looked astonished and said, “Father, I have no enemies, I have shot them all.”
Source Unknown – quoted of the Internet

What God Forgives He Forgets

In A Forgiving God in an Unforgiving World, Ron Lee Davis retells the true story of a priest in the Philippines, a much- loved man of God who carried the burden of a secret sin he had committed many years before. He had repented but still had no peace, no sense of God’s forgiveness.
In his parish was a woman who deeply loved God and who claimed to have visions in which she spoke with Christ and he with her. The priest, however, was skeptical. To test her he said, “The next time you speak with Christ, I want you to ask him what sin your priest committed while he was in seminary.” The woman agreed. A few days later the priest asked., “Well, did Christ visit you in your dreams?”
“Yes, he did,” she replied.
“And did you ask him what sin I committed in seminary?”
“Well, what did he say?”
“He said, ‘I don’t remember'”
What God forgives, He forgets

David H. Bolton – quoted off the Internet

And another version:
A few years ago, rumors spread that a certain Catholic woman was having visions of Jesus. The archbishop decided to check her out.
‘Is it true, m’am, that you have visions of Jesus?’ asked the cleric.
‘Yes,’ the woman replied.
‘Well, the next time you have a vision, I want you to ask Jesus to tell you the sins that I confessed in my last confession. Please call me if anything happens.’
Ten days later the woman notified her spiritual leader of a recent apparition.
Within the hour the archbishop arrived. ‘What did Jesus say?’ he asked.
She took his hand and gazed deep into his eyes. ‘Bishop,’ she said, ‘these are his exact words: I CAN’T REMEMBER. ‘

Brennan Manning,The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up and Burnt Out (Portland, Ore.: Multnomah Press, 1990), 116-117

Walking Out On Sickness

Karl Menninger, the famed psychiatrist, once said that if he could convince the patients in psychiatric hospitals that their sins were forgiven, 75 percent of them could walk out the next day!
Today in the Word, March 1989, p. 8. – quoted off the Internet

You’ve Forgotten Something

In a dream, Martin Luther found himself being attacked by Satan. The devil unrolled a long scroll containing a list of Luther’s sins, and held it before him. On reaching the end of the scroll Luther asked the devil, “Is that all?” “No,” came the reply, and a second scroll was thrust in front of him. Then, after a second came a third. But now the devil had no more. “You’ve forgotten something,” Luther exclaimed triumphiantly. “Quickly write on each of them, ‘The blood of Jesus Christ God’s son cleanses us from all sins.'”
K. Koch, Occult Bondage and Deliverance, p. 10 – quoted off the Internet

True Forgiveness

Thomas A. Edison was working on a crazy contraption called a “light bulb” and it took a whole team of men 24 straight hours to put just one together. The story goes that when Edison was finished with one light bulb, he gave it to a young boy helper, who nervously carried it up the stairs. Step by step he cautiously watched his hands, obviously frightened of dropping such a priceless piece of work. You’ve probably guessed what happened by now; the poor young fellow droped the bulb at the top of the stairs. It took the entire team of men twenty-four more hours to make another bulb. Finally, tired and ready for a break, Edison was ready to have his bulb carried up the stairs. He gave it to the same young boy who dropped the first one. That’s true forgiveness.
James Newton, Uncommon Friends – quoted off the Internet

What Comes Before Forgivenness

A Sunday School teacher had just concluded her lesson and wanted to make sure she had made her point. She said, “Can anyone tell me what you must do before you can obtain forgiveness of sin?” There was a short pause and then, from the back of the room, a small boy spoke up. “Sin,” he said.
Bits and Pieces, May, 1991 – quoted off the Internet

Forgiveness Is A Costly Thing

There is one eternal principal which will be valid as long as the world lasts. The principle is — Forgiveness is a costly thing. Human forgiveness is costly. A son or a daughter may go wrong; a father or a mother may forgive; but that forgiveness has brought tears … There was a price of a broken heart to pay. Divine forgiveness is costly. God is love, but God is holiness. God, least of all, can break the great moral laws on which the universe is built. Sin must have its punishment or the very structure of life disintegrates. And God alone can pay the terrible price that is necessary before men can be forgiven. Forgiveness is never a case of saying: “It’s all right; it doesn’t matter.” Forgiveness is the most costly thing in the world.
William Barclay in The Letter to Hebrews – quoted off the internet

Jesus Is Too Young

We had attended a nativity program with our friends and their two sons, ages 4 and 6, and were impressed with the boys’ fascination at seeing the baby Jesus in a manger. The play was, indeed, realistic and convincing.
Later at their home the boys started arguing, and after ignoring repeated warnings to stop, their mother sent them to their rooms to ask forgiveness from Jesus for their disobedience. When the older boy rejoined us, his mother asked him if he had asked Jesus to forgive him. “No,” he replied, “I asked God because Jesus is too young to understand.”
Beth Gearhart, Billings, MT. Christian Reader, “Lite Fare.”

The Lord Gave Me Not Further Instructions

A successful Irish boxer was converted and became a preacher. He happened to be in a new town setting up his evangelistic tent when a couple of tough thugs noticed what he was doing. Knowing nothing of his background, they made a few insulting remarks. The Irishman merely turned and looked at them. Pressing his luck, one of the bullies took a swing and struck a glancing blow on one side of the ex-boxer’s face. He shook it off and said nothing as he turned the other cheek. The fellow took another glancing blow on the other side. At that point the preacher swiftly took off his coat, rolled up his sleeves, and announced, “The Lord gave me not further instructions.” Whop!
The Tale Of The Tardy Oxcart Charles R. Swindoll, Word, p. 214.

The Last Supper

Leonardo da Vinci painted the fresco “The Last Supper” in a church in Milan. Two very interesting stories are associated with this painting.
At the time that Leonardo da Vinci painted “The Last Supper,” he had an enemy who was a fellow painter. da Vinci had had a bitter argument with this man and despised him. When da Vinci painted the face of Judas Iscariot at the table with Jesus, he used the face of his enemy so that it would be present for ages as the man who betrayed Jesus. He took delight while painting this picture in knowing that others would actually notice the face of his enemy on Judas.
As he worked on the faces of the other disciples, he often tried to paint the face of Jesus, but couldn’t make any progress. da Vinci felt frustrated and confused. In time he realized what was wrong. His hatred for the other painter was holding him back from finishing the face of Jesus. Only after making peace with his fellow painter and repainting the face of Judas was he able to paint the face of Jesus and complete his masterpiece.
One of the reasons we may have a hard time accepting the forgiveness of God is that we find it hard to forgive others. That’s why Jesus said, “If you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (Matt. 6:14,15). If you want your relationship with Jesus to be all that it should be, forgive your enemies and do all you can to demonstrate Christ’s love to them.
Hot Illustrations For Youth Talks Wayne Rice, Zonderzan, pp. 161-162.