For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin» (Romans 3:9).
Franz Häsel was an Adventist Christian who enlisted as a soldier in the Pioneer Company 699 of the German army. This was one of Hitler’s special troops whose mission was to build bridges at the front lines. As a Christ’s soldier, he had the opportunity to bear witness of his faith even though he was exposed to mockery, punishment and even death. In his unit, he became known for keeping the Sabbath, his loyalty in his work, his daily study of the Bible and his diet of not eating unclean meat (see Leviticus 11). In matters of principles, they did not hesitate to keep him as a model and, even if at the beginning he was called into question, he ultimately gained everyone’s respect. Once, he got to reprimand his colleagues for displaying the valuable goods they had stolen from the French houses. Tactfully and firmly, he tried to encourage them to be better people. As Susi Hasel narrates in her book A Thousand Shall Fall, Franz told them: «You are upright men at home . . . You have wives and children. At home you would not steal. Don’t let the war change your values and cause you to become thieves here» (p. 35). Ashamed, each one of them went to bed. However, when Franz was getting undressed, he noticed a small bundle in one of his pockets. It was a spool of thread found in one of the house inspections. Without meaning to, he had stolen something just like the others. He was guilty of the same sin he had just condemned. «I’m no better than them,» he said to himself, asking God for forgiveness. The following day, he returned the thread to the same place where he had taken it.
«I’m not better than them» is a sentence that we should engrave in our memory every time we think of condemning others. Every time we think of those who hurt us, we should remember that, despite our faults and sins, we had made the Son of God suffer much more deeply. «But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed» (Isa. 53:5).
Let us meditate today on how much we have hurt our Savior; and when we think about those who harmed us, we should remember to repeat: «I’m no better than them.» Prepare yourself thus to forgive as Christ forgave you (Col. 3:13).