Toorak Uniting Church

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Living a righteous life

Psalm 112
Tina Lyndon
23 August 2009

There are some people, whose lives witness to God’s goodness, who inspire us and offer us hope for the journey. Who respond to God’s love, with love.

I’d like to share with you a glimpse of two people who inspire me.

 Corrie Ten Boom The first person is Corrie Ten Boom.

Corrie was a devout Dutch Christian who was born in 1892. That’s her photo on the front of the order of service.

Corries family sheltered Jewish people in their home during WW II and along with the Dutch Resistance, helped many Jewish people escape the Nazi’s.

They did this for two years, until they were betrayed and arrested.

They were imprisoned.

Within 10 days Corries father died. Her brother, a minister, was later released, but Corrie and her sister Betsie were sent onto concentration camps and ended up at Ravensbruck.

Life in the concentration camps was a nightmare.

It made Corrie very ill and she was put into solitary confinement, without any medical treatment.

As she slowly recovered, her beloved sister Betsie became very ill and died.

Corrie deeply grieved the loss of her sister.

On Christmas day 1944, due to a clerical error, Corrie was mistakenly released.

A week later all the women in the camp her age, were gassed.

After her release Corrie went on to set up rehabilitation centres, for those who had suffered due to the German Occupation.

She also travelled throughout the world preaching about her experiences and the importance of forgiveness and wrote many books.

One of her books is called: The Hiding Place, a book some of you may have read.

One Sunday Corrie preached on forgiveness at a church service in Munich and unexpectedly came face to face with the former SS man who had stood guard at the shower room door, in the processing centre at Ravensbruck.

As you can imagine, all the memories suddenly came flooding back – the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie’s pain-blanched face.

The former SS guard smiled at her and bowled.

He said to her: How grateful am I for your message, Fraulein. To think that, as you say: He has washed my sins away!

He put out his hand to shake Corries hand.
But she could not bring herself to take it.

Angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through her. She struggled with her emotions. She asked herself:

Jesus Christ had died for this man! Was I going to ask for more?

Then she prayed. Lord Jesus, forgive me and help me to forgive him.

She tried to smile at him and raise her hand to shake his. But she couldn’t. She couldn’t feel anything for him. Not the slightest spark of warmth or charity.

She prayed again. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me your forgiveness.

Suddenly she was able to lift her hand and take his. As she did this, she felt an overwhelming sense of love pass through her, love for this stranger who had hurt her so deeply.

This experience made Corrie realise healing and forgiveness depended on Jesus, not her capacity for goodness and forgiveness.

Corrie was an ordinary woman, who dealt with what life presented to her in a very special way.

Through her story we receive an insight into how forgiveness can come about, even in the most difficult circumstances.

Sometimes it’s a struggle to forgive, and not only when you are faced with the SS guard who caused you and many others terrible suffering.

It may sometimes take years of grieving and healing before we can forgive, even when we try as hard as we can.

For me, Corrie Ten Boom is an example of someone who was able to rise above the pain of her circumstances and find the courage to forgive someone and something that was really unforgiveable.

She offers me both an example and hope, that I can do the same.

Corrie was knighted by the Queen of the Netherlands in recognition of her work and the State of Israel came to honour her as "Righteous Among all Nations"

She was a woman who lived a loving and righteous life that made the world a better place, a life that was inspired by and responded to, the righteousness and love of God.

Another example of a righteous person who inspires me is my best friend.

We have known each other from college days. We know everything about each other, warts and all and can be very honest with each other. We have been friends through thick and thin and lived through many milestones of life.

As a professional she does her best to contribute to making the world a better place.
She goes to church most Sunday’s with her family and her house and kitchen are always open. She even lets me steal all her best recipes, except one.

You may have a best friend like that who you consider a righteous person as well, or maybe there is someone else who is an example or inspiration for you.

Psalm 112, the psalm we read today, praises those who live a righteous life in response to the love and righteousness of God, which we talked about last week when we read psalm 111.

Psalm 112 offers us some insights into what it means to live such a life.

First of all the psalmist promises us, that if we fear God and obey his commands, we will be blessed and happy.

In other words: The psalmist promises us if we love God and obey the directions he has given us as to how we should lead our lives, life will be good and it will bring us happiness.

So what does the psalm tell us, about what kind of person a righteous person is?

The picture the psalm draws is of a person who is a good example to others, kind and generous, strong and merciful, unafraid of evil tidings, because of their faith in God.

Any foes who gnashed their teeth in anger at them, melt away because they can’t compete against their strong faith and trust in God.

The psalmist praises the righteous who live a good life in response to the love and righteousness of God.

He offers us something to strive for in our lives.

However: Although the life of a righteous person, according to the psalm, will bring blessing and happiness, it doesn’t promise us a life without difficulty.

The life of Corrie ten Boom is an example of this. She experienced deep suffering, but through her faith she found blessing and goodness nevertheless. Not only was she able to put her experiences to the service of others after the war, not only did she somehow find the strength to forgive even when face to face with one of her tormentors from the camp, she found release from hatred and bitterness through her life as a woman following Christ in response to God’s love and presence in her life.

The psalmist promises us that if we experience difficulties in life, we can with God’s help, triumph over adversity.

That as long as we live our life where we are kind and generous, strong and merciful and loving and trust in God, our life will amount to something worth praising God for.

So what’s the good news for us today?

Psalm 112 promises: The righteous rise in the darkness as a light for the upright.

In other words: wherever we manage to live a life of faith, wherever we manage to let our life be guided by the love and righteousness of God, wherever we follow the light and example God gave us in Jesus Christ, the more we will become a light for the world ourselves and help others find life.

This is every reason to praise God in all circumstances, especially when we are suffering in some way, it’s like we defy the power of suffering to define us and our world.

When we praise God, something changes. We connect with a strength that rises from deep within us and find courage that helps us persevere in faith and rise above whatever is defeating us.

We discover an inner resilience and that God is with us, at work in our lives.

Having faith in God helps us find strength to do things which are difficult and to praise God, is to enter into his joy and draw close to God.

The Lord be with you.

Let’s sing Hymn 147 with gusto - To God Be the Glory, Great things he has done.

© Tina Lyndon, 2009


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