“Eva understood this important principle about forgiveness — when you refuse to forgive, you only punish yourself. Eva said:
“Why survive if all you want to be is sad, angry and hurting.”
Now in their 80s and 90s, many survivors of the Nazi Holocaust were upset when a photo of Holocaust survivor Eva Kor, 81, surfaced earlier this year.
It was a photo of Eva embracing Oskar Groening, 94, in a German courtroom in the city of Lunenburg. Groening had been a SS sergeant and chief accountant at Auschwitz concentration camp.
This is the camp where the Nazis sent Eva and her Hungarian Jewish family to die.
The courts found Groening guilty and complicit in the slaughter of 300,000 Jews through gas chambers at the camp.
Eva and her identical twin sister Miriam were ten when their family arrived at Auschwitz.
As the cattle cars emptied, Eva recalls the Nazis scouring the hundred of Jews standing on the train platform. The guards were looking for identical twins. When a guard saw Eva and Miriam, he yanked them out of their mothers arms and took them away.
They were of keen interest to Dr. Josef Mengele, the Nazi surgeon at the camp who used Jews for his brutal experiments. He particularly wanted to work on identical twins comparing results of different experiments, usually done without pain medication.
Every week, Mengele injected the two girls with different concoctions to see how they would respond. At times, Mengele said he expected them to die. But while the rest of their family died in the Nazi gas chambers, Eva and Miriam survived.
In an interview with the English newspaper, The Telegraph, Eva who now lives in Indiana said she decided to forgive the Nazis years earlier, when she visited Auschwitz during the 1980s.
So when the old SS sergeant reached out to hug her, Eva responded back.
She said, it was “not because, they deserved it, but because I deserve it.”
Many refuse to forgive believing they are somehow still punishing the offender.
But Eva understood this important principle about forgiveness — when you refuse to forgive, you only punish yourself.”
I have been to Auschwitz. It is a powerful, emotional location to visit. I was there when the sign above (“Work Makes You Free”) was still there. Seeing the barbed wire, the end of the line of the train tracks where cattle cars brought Jews to jump the ditch and work or fail the jump and be cremated – seeing the crematoria, the piles of bones, teeth, shaved hair, eyeglasses, shoes… I can imagine never being able to forgive my oppressors if I had been starved and enslaved and imprisoned there, or if my family or village had been executed there. But not forgiving hurts us more than those who wronged us.
“We see this principle at work in Matthew 18 – Jesus’ classic teaching on forgiveness.
Jesus tells of a slave who owed a massive debt of 10,000 talents to a certain king. It is hard to estimate how much this was in modern currency but it was certainly in the millions of dollars, perhaps as much as $10 million.
There was really only one way this could happen, the servant was probably managing the king’s tax-collection regime where there were a number of private tax collectors working beneath him, such as the Apostle Matthew (Matthew 9:9).
The king had called for an accounting, but something had gone terribly wrong. The slave was short $10 million. It appears he may have used the money for private investments on the side to generate personal income. Maybe he handed out some loans. Perhaps, a tax collector was having a bad week and asked for an extension before paying revenues.
However it happened the servant was short and when he was unable to cough up the money, the king ordered him and his family sold into slavery (v 25). In an act of utter desperation, the man fell to his knees and pleaded for mercy. The king relented and forgave him.
After receiving forgiveness, we read the servant’s response:
“But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’” (v 28).
How many times are we forgiven – by parents or spouses or friends… only to fail to forgive others for far less?
Read even more at the full original article by Dean Smith at the opentheword.org blog