FROM where we’ve come from, we’ve spoken a lot about forgiveness being an act of obedience over justice, that it’s not about justice at all, and yet that it’s all about justice. Those three previous articles have presumed that forgiveness is an-easy-to-understand transaction. To a point, it needs to be. Forgiveness needs to be about obeying God, and not haggling about justice.
But that’s not the whole story as far as God’s concerned.
God knows, as our intuitiveness tells us, that there’s something more primary to our obedience — something that must be in place for our obedience to work.
The Lord looks to the heart.
The Bible tells us that God cannot ignore the person who has acknowledged their truth; who has dug down deeply into what they did wrong, and who’ve owned that historical fact. God cannot ignore someone who’s taken Him seriously, who’s not simply settled for an outward ‘sacrifice’ for having sinned, but has made an inner sacrament of their contrition.
As far as forgiveness is concerned, it helps enormously if we’ve dug down deeply into what we could have done better or differently. But deeper than that even, we must reflect again on our own brokenness. If someone has transgressed us, the closest we can come to understanding them is to understand ourselves.
God does a miracle of healing in us, by His Spirit and by His grace, when we take matters deeper that mere outward contrition.
The value of sin is only in its admission. Only when we admit our sin does God have the permission He needs to dig down deeply into us, to cleanse, heal and restore us.
If our contrition isn’t met with their contrition, when we’re looking for it, true forgiveness and understanding is unlikely. But if our contrition makes theirs superfluous, given that God cannot ignore us when we’re contrite, He pours out His mercy over us. Trust this. It works.
Our contrition should not depend on theirs. Our contrition is enough, and, in taking God seriously, He takes us seriously. Forgiveness is between us and God.
Would we rather do our heart work and forget about what ‘they need to do’, and be blessed, or fight tooth and nail for what ‘they should do’, and end frustrated?
Forgiveness is hard because we live in a broken world. Forgiveness is made easier when we admit our brokenness and live for God.
God gives us a heart of mercy when we understand His grace, and forgiveness requires a merciful heart of understanding and grace.
When we understand that God understands us, and we understand His forgiveness, we understand the need to forgive.
© 2016 Steve Wickham.