Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32
We don’t forgive because we don’t really understand how much we’ve been forgiven.
We could never offend another person or be offended more than we have already offended God.
That perspective helps me understand how unimpressive my slights are.
Oh, someone said something unkind to you, huh?
They killed the creator of the universe.
The very hands that molded and created you were held to the cross by His forgiveness of you.
You have wronged Him more profoundly, more extremely, more irreparably than you can imagine.
He is the very essence of holiness.
We define holiness by using His attributes.
When you and I sin we offend His very nature, His very essence.
And, yet, somehow, He finds it within Himself to forgive us.
I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for My own sake, and remembers your sins no more. Isaiah 43:25
The God Almighty, the greatest Being to ever exists stoops and humbles Himself to forgive little ol’ me and you.
He forgives what should be an irreparable offense.
But we won’t but we won’t forgive petty misunderstandings and simple wrongs.
And that’s because we don’t truly understand how grossly and entirely we have offended Him and how undeserving we are of His forgiveness.
If we did grasp this, we would readily pass on that forgiveness to others.
The forgiveness that is required of me is infinitesimal compared to that which Christ willingly gave it.
He willingly gave forgiveness for the most severe offenses to His holiness that man could ever contrive.
But I’m reluctant to give grace over an unkind word.
Somehow I think that my miniscule offense is worth more than the offense against His holy essence? Against His very nature and being?
If Jesus could forgive those who were killing Him, those who who wronging Him, why can’t we forgive those who merely act unkindly?
When they came to the place called The Skull, they crucified Him there, along with the criminals, one on His right and the other on His left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up His garments by casting lots. Luke 23:33-34
Hands that He created, souls who borrowed their every breath from Him, nailed Him to a tree.
And He let them.
So that He could not only forgive them.
But offer them redemption.
In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace. Ephesians 1:7
We don’t forgive because we do not understand how much we owe God.
How incredibly unworthy we are.
We do not forgive because we think we deserve more.
But we don’t.
We don’t forgive because we don’t understand His holiness.
We don’t forgive because we do not appreciate the depth of God’s grace to us when we don’t deserve it.
Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. Micah 7:18-19
If we truly understood, we would not withhold that same grace from others.
We think our right to feel wronged is greater than His?
Their heart was not steadfast toward him; they were not faithful to his covenant. Yet he, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; he restrained his anger often and did not stir up all his wrath.He remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passes and comes not again. Psalm 78:37-39
If we truly want to be like Him, if the Holy Spirit is truly calling us to replication of His holy character, we will forgive.
And that forgiveness will have nothing to do with the remorse on the part of the offender.
Did Christ only forgive His executioners if they apologized?
If we want to be like Him, we need to forgive like He does.
We need to have greater-than-human understanding of forgiveness.
He gave us forgiveness when we were undeserving.
The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; Daniel 9:9
How can we give any less?
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:14-15
And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. Mark 11:25
If you have too high an opinion of yourself you will not have a proper view of what you owe to those around you. You owe God a debt of gratitude and love which is payable to those around you. This includes forgiveness. I wonder how many more people we would win to Christ if Christians were know for forgiving instead of condemning.
For more on the topic of forgiveness see this blog series which includes a flowchart about forgiveness.