I was reading a blog that was questioning the need to forgive. Questions were raised, such as, Why should we forgive? Shouldn’t the offender say they are sorry and ask for forgiveness or make restitution? And the concern was stated: To forgive is to act like the wrong never happened. And they ended with, “Give me a reason to forgive.”
I posted a comment on that site, which follows. But, in my comment, I failed to address the assertion that forgiveness is acting like the wrong never happened. And since this is a typical concern, I would like to respond. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ has never been forgotten. Neither God nor man thinks it should be. And yet Jesus forgave those who crucified Him and asked His Father to forgive them as well. Forgiveness doesn’t require forgetting what happened. It does, however, release one from the pain attached to the memory. And it allows the forgiver to treat the forgiven as if they had not been wronged by them.
My Comment: “Jesus is the only pure innocent person who ever lived. When He died on the cross, it was for our sins. He had no guilt of His own. In the process He prayed, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
They knew they were behaving as barbarians. They knew they were killing an innocent man. They knew they were wrong. But they didn’t know He was God in the flesh. They didn’t know He was dying in their place. They didn’t know they were party to the greatest crime in history!
All criminals have some level of knowledge about their wrongness but they also have some blind spots. For whatever reason, they lack compassion and empathy. They cannot put themselves in their victim’s place. At some level, “they know not what they do.” They do not fully realize the consequences of their behavior for their victims or themselves.
This does not excuse the behavior. It does not exempt them from prosecution to the full extent of the law now and the Judgement of God in eternity if they fail to repent. But it does broaden our thinking and may stir our own compassion and empathy. Outside the legal system, only those among us “without sin” are allowed to cast stones. God says, “Vengeance is Mine says the LORD. I will repay.” No one gets away with anything. They face God now or in the end.
In Matthew Chapter 6, Jesus said for us to pray, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Then He followed with the statement, “If you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
He also told a parable about how upset a King became when he forgave one of his debtors a huge debt and that fellow went out and refused to forgive another man of a tiny debt (by comparison). We are in that situation. We are all debtors who must look to God for mercy, and He says those who will not extend mercy will receive none.
True forgiveness flows out of gratitude for forgiveness received. No other source of forgiveness is strong enough to release “heavy” debts.
I pray forgiveness will flow in and through the reader in need of it, by the grace of God. I am sorry for your pain. God offers you release and peace through forgiveness.”
I know a lot more could be said about this subject and I welcome your comments.