Forgiveness is not about them. It’s about us. It’s about us and our relationship with God, centrally, and only peripherally about our relationship with them—those that may have abused our trust. Our forgiveness of others is a direct commentary on what we really think of God’s grace as it should apply to us. If we think they shouldn’t be forgiven, perhaps we think deeper down we shouldn’t be forgiven.
If we limit our forgiveness then we’re saying God’s grace should also be limited to that conditional extent:
“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
~Matthew 6:14-15 (NRSV)
What Is A Divine Must?
Forgiveness is a divine space,
Of a thing called ‘consummate grace’,
Certainly it involves a risk of trust,
But that is, indeed, a divine must.
So, God’s grace is an all-or-nothing thing. And because we cannot affect God’s grace—that it came about via Jesus’ obedience nearly 2000 years ago—we ought to get accustomed to this divine must. The overriding concept of life, including godly justice systems, is based inherently in this grace. It does us no good to refuse what is common fact.
Certainly forgiveness involves the risk of trust. The trusting party is the godlier one, for they exemplify the Lord. God trusts us through his love to love others and thereby to follow the divine model. (In exceptional circumstances—where further trust is likely to be betrayed—forgiveness is simply moving on with no grudges toward the other party. The risk of trust is irrelevant and not applicable in these cases.)
It’s a divine must in this: we’re only blessed through our cooperation. And any lack of cooperation can often be explained in the following:
Our Attitude to the Receipt of God’s Grace
What was alluded to above is now in the frame: if we struggle to issue forgiveness, do we also struggle to accept God’s forgiveness of us? Many people do. They cannot reconcile themselves as forgivable. Self-forgiveness is vitally important in receiving God’s forgiveness; comprehending the magnificence of God’s grace. This is where forgiveness, broadly, gets very personal.
If there are barriers to our forgiving other people, we would do well to question deeply our acceptance of God’s grace as it pertains to our own lives. Have we truly accepted it? Do we feel forgiven? Is there any residual guilt and shame? If there is, we might be the barrier, not the other person we’re yet to forgive.
Forgiveness is a divine must—life doesn’t work very well when we refuse to forgive. And difficulties to forgive are barriers more personal than we realise. Forgiveness is not about them. Forgiveness is about us; us and our relationship with God.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.