I’m so glad that David’s article reminds me: “Many people find forgiveness very difficult indeed—not so with God. It is the natural outworking of His nature. It is part of His character.”
It’s easy to see God’s forgiveness as similar to the forgiveness we experience from one another. But the way He forgives us is light years beyond our ability to forgive one another.
Much as I hate to admit it, my own forgiveness record is spattered with pride and self-interest. Yes, I have been known to forgive as the Bible teaches me to. . . but not always. How often have I “decided” to forgive someone to show that I’m the bigger person? What about the secret, or not-so-secret re-examining of the other person’s offense after I supposedly forgave him or her? When I notice that I’m forgiving the same person for the same thing again (sigh), do I feel like some kind of forgiveness martyr? Or possibly even look down on the person I’ve forgiven? Or keep track and feel someone owes me big time because I’ve extended so much forgiveness? It’s not always like that, but I have to admit, I’ve been guilty often enough. But not God. Not ever.
God doesn’t have to show anyone He’s the bigger person. He just IS.
He doesn’t have to prove how good He is—to anyone. He already has all the power and glory in the universe. When He does make a point of showing us His goodness, it’s not so He can feel better about Himself; it’s so that we can trust Him and revel in His goodness and enjoy it with Him.
God is not surprised by how often we need forgiving. He chose to redeem us with full knowledge of all we’ve done as well as the good, the bad and the ugly that we’ll continue to do until He has completed His transforming work in us.
When God forgives, He stamps “cancelled” on our debt and remembers it no more. Jesus paid it all.*
You may be the most forgiving person in the world . . . But if you had to forgive every sin of every redeemed person in the world as an offence committed against you, personally, you’d find it too much to bear.
And that’s the amazing thing about God’s forgiveness. No matter who sins against whom, every single sin is an assault on God. Every sin says that we are unwilling to acknowledge what is due to the One who has given us life and breath and every good thing. And God has both the capacity and the desire to forgive it all.
I want to forgive truly—the way God commands us to—out of gratitude for how He’s forgiven me. It’s so much better than following “false-forgiveness” cues from the pride, insecurity and self-righteousness that come so naturally to every human being. If this strikes a chord in your heart, be encouraged! Forgiveness is part of God’s character, as David said. The more we yield to Him, the more our character is conformed to His through the power of the Holy Spirit—and the more capacity and desire we will have to forgive as He forgives.
* Meaning Jesus paid it all for those who agree with God that their sin has created a chasm that only He can cross, by His grace, which we receive by faith in Jesus when we surrender our hearts to Him.