The Prophet, Isaiah, said this:
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
— Isaiah 52:7 (NIV)
WHILE we are waiting for the unrepentant person to seek our forgiveness — and such a wait can literally last a lifetime — our duty is to walk with the feet of readiness to forgive them. We hold matters in tension all that time. We find God blesses us with his strength in our weakness.
Everyone has these matters to hold in tension. Everyone. Even the person who has not yet come to us to seek our forgiveness for their wrongdoing has had people hurt and betray them; possibly even ourselves — which bears urgent consideration.
Having feet that walk with the readiness to forgive is the continual work of God’s grace through us.
Whilst we walk with such feet, we are compelled to do what we can to be ready.
Our task, when we are called upon at their repentance, is to give them what they need; our ‘undeserved’ favour, which is really not that undeserved as God’s grace is. But it is a modicum, an imitation, and an exemplar of grace.
Such a task of readiness to forgive keeps us from becoming bitter. Becoming bitter would mean we would not be ready at all. But in preparing to be ready, and in actually being ready, we are ready for to bequeath the bountiful portents of God’s grace to be poured into their lives at the proper, God-appointed time. Such grace is not ours to give, but God’s. We are simply abiding in his will — it’s a simple obedience, nothing more, nothing less.
So there is no need for bitterness, though we shall struggle with it as we wrestle with God.
We are to walk on. Past bitterness, we have acceded to the will of him who forgives us our transgressions (see the Lord’s Prayer — Matthew 6:9-13, with bonus teaching in verses 14-15).
Only if we forgive the repentant person — and are ready to forgive them in the meantime — will we be forgiven.
We cannot have it both ways.
The transgressor is to repent and seek forgiveness; they are to be forgiven if and when they seek it. The victim is to be ready at a moment’s notice. These are the common relational duties in conflict for those walking with God.
The people who walk with feet ready to forgive are the people who receive those who walk with the feet ready to repent and to be forgiven. Both are good news. Both proclaim peace. Both bring good tidings. Both proclaim salvation. Such is the environment that Isaiah 52:7 highlights.
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.