(True story from the book, Through the Valley of the Kwai by Ernest Gordon)
In World War 2, there was a group of Scottish soldiers who were taken as prisoners of war to a Japanese concentration camp. In that camp, they met a prisoner who was already there, an American named Dusty. Dusty was a follower of Jesus who lived out the love of Christ in amazing ways. He not only served and shared his food with the other prisoners who were sick, but he was genuinely kind and caring for his captors.
Half of the captured Scottish regiment surrendered to the call of Jesus through Dusty’s example and learned to forgive and love their enemies. The other half followed the leadership of one of their own officers who became more and more consumed by bitterness and anger, all in the name of justice. Eventually this group tried a prison break and failed.
The next day they were brought in front of the entire camp and were being executed one by one. Dusty stepped forward and asked the Japanese commander to punish him instead of the Scottish officer. This infuriated the commander, because he knew Dusty followed Jesus. In an attempt to shake the Christian soldiers’ faith, he honored Dusty’s request by crucifying Dusty and letting the Scottish officer live.
However, this bolstered the other soldiers’ faith and they followed Dusty’s example by caring for each other and their captors. Through their forgiving love, they made genuine friendships with some of their captors which lasted through their old age after the war was over.
This story was made into a movie called “To End All Wars.” The title of this movie is so appropriate. Without forgiveness, aggression breeds more aggression—it never ends. In our brokenness, we all hurt each other. Our Heavenly Father’s forgiving love is the foundation for us to forgive each other. This is the cornerstone of all lasting relationships, and the missing ingredient in so many broken relationships.
What are some practical ways we can forgive?
On the Job: Doing our work as unto the Lord, even if our employer isn’t always fair.
Husbands and Wives: When things are said and done in the heat of anger and selfishness, lay them down at the foot of the cross. Remember your desperate need for Jesus’ forgiveness.
Kids with Parents: When Dad and Mom don’t always treat you and your siblings equally, remember your parents are fallen people who need grace too.
Parents with Kids: Even though we need to discipline our kids, remember that discipline is part of God’s kindness that leads us to repentance.
Most of the time, we can’t get out of our own way because of our brokenness, and so we hurt each other over and over. Jesus knew this, and so He said this as He was hanging on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” We can forgive because He first forgave us!