“…because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us.” Romans 5:5.
F. B. Meyer has said, “God does not fill with His Holy Spirit those who believe in the fullness of the Spirit, or those who desire Him, but those who obey Him.” Corrie Ten Boom of Holland was imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp in Germany for hiding Jews and after surviving the war was led by God to travel the world to tell her story and help bring others to Christ. One of the first places God led her was back to Germany, the one place Corrie asked God not to send her after she answered His call. Corrie ultimately relented and went to Germany and was able to be a mighty witness there with her message of God’s forgiveness.
At one meeting, after she spoke, she was approached by a man who she recognized as one of the guards at the concentration camp where she was imprisoned. In fact, she recognized him as one of the most cruel guards. He informed her that he had recently become a Christian and knew that God had forgiven him for the cruel things that he did but he would like to ask her to forgive him also and held out his hand. Corrie wrestled with extending her hand due to lingering bitterness, even though she had just given a message that God could forgive any sin. Then she remembered that God can only forgive our sins if we forgive others sins against us. She silently asked God to help her and slowly extended her hand. As she did an incredible thing took place as a healing warmth seemed to flood her whole being and she truly forgave this man. She had never know God’s love so intensely before. The ability to forgive was a work of the Spirit that was initiated by her obedience.
In ministering to victims of Nazi brutality, another ministry where she had raised money for a home for displaced persons, she noticed those who had been 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 bitterness, however, remained invalids. Corrie noted that forgiveness is an act of the will, you do not necessarily need the emotion of forgiveness initially. She relied on God to provide the heart change (feelings) which he did many times as she ministered to the Germans.
What a challenge for us to simply obey God’s commands no matter how we feel. If we are obedient we will see the wonder of the workings and powers of the Holy Spirit in our life.