Sunday, 05 February 2017 18:43

Forgiveness, a gift from God

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“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Matthew 6:12

 

Words can be deceitful things. They may mean something completely different from one person to another. Even if its core meaning is understood, the nuances that define it fully are deeply rooted in personal experience. To understand what something means, we need to try to understand what it means to who said them. Let's search for some answers.

 

"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

 

This is a lovely verse with a powerful message. It helps us understand what we are dealing with when we think of forgiveness, as followers of God. When Paul says "as the Lord forgave you", he implies that our first instinct would be to forgive the way that us ourselves, human beings, would forgive. Let's think about that for a second.

We are familiar with the phrase "forgiven but not forgotten". A variation of meaning is "trust, but verify". Both have embedded an expectation of deception. If we forgive, we can't forget, or it might happen again. We need to keep an eye out for a repetition of the same situation. Be "smart". Did we really forgive? If we need to verify, are we really trusting?

As humans, we revel in ambivalence. We enjoy double meanings, back doors and alternate interpretations. However, that's not how the Lord forgives. Paul urges us to forgive as the Lord does.

 

"As far as the East is from the West, so far has He removed our transgressions from us" Psalm 103:12

 

When God forgives, it's gone. It's removed. It's expunged from our record. It's as if it had never existed. He trusts us, He loves us, He forgives us and all is forgotten.

On the deceitfulness of words, we may find ourselves confusing human forgiveness with God's forgiveness, which we are called to emulate.

 

"This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" Matthew 26:28

 

This is why God's forgiveness is such a serious and permanent matter to Him. It was made possible by bloodshed, by Jesus purchasing it with His life. We inherit that gift, and are called to pass it on to those who have wronged us.

Is it difficult to forgive this way? Only if we try on our own. Only if we try to implement it as human forgiveness. If we open our hearts to God, He will enable us to forgive the same way He does. Blank slate. It never happened.

Knowing what God's forgiveness is takes us to wondering how that is even possible. We broke His heart. We took His perfect creation and sullied it with sin. When He offered to save us by sending us His son, we rejected Him in the most extreme way. Jesus gave His life to bring us back to the Father. Love like that can't be understood by humans. We can't grasp His forgiveness because we can't grasp His love.

When it comes to what or who we love, our innate nature makes us very self-centered. Do they make us feel good? Are they pleasant to be around? Do they meet our needs?

God's love, on the other hand, is the essence of who He is. To state that God is love is the whole Gospel. Let's try to go through our list of love requirements to see if we fit our own bill towards God. Do we make Him feel good? Not unless we come to Him. Alone, we are not lovable. We ignore Him, break His guidance, and avoid His presence. Are we pleasant to be around? Not when we push Him away or simply place ourselves in the center of our world. Do we meet His needs? God is all powerful, all knowing and eternal. What need of His could we possible hope to fulfill? Yet, because He is love, He needs to be with us.

If we understand that, we know that the only way to please Him is to accept His presence. When He is within, things don't feel the same. They change and they shift towards His perspective. The more we allow Him to change who we are, the closer we will be to His image and His love. Then and only then, we can hope to understand and experience His forgiveness and pass it along.

Forgiveness is one element of God's character. It can't be understood or embraced on its own. Unless we allow God to take over our lives, we will never understand anything about Him. We will never experience the peace that comes from His forgiveness because we won't be able to see it or feel it.

His love and the forgiveness that comes from it is beyond our human comprehension. That is what true forgiveness is. It's real. It's perfect. It's the only way.

   
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