Forgiveness is an act of the will,
Enacted as a decision of mind.
When we do a forgiving act,
Suddenly to resentment we’re blind.
“Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.”
— Corrie ten Boom (1901–1983)
DICHOTOMIES of state are the realm of God and this one I’m about to explore is no exception. Hold two words in tension, both of which fit together as a unit in this case – extravagance and practicality. God provides the extravagance in the form of a miracle. We bring to the table the practicality of executing forgiveness as an act of our will.
When we do what only we can, God’s does what only he can.
When we act despite the hurt in our hearts – and resolve by our minds to forgive – then we do what only we can. We surrender the matter to God and allow him to show us. As we continue upon our commitment to do what only we can, God continues to pour grace in and through us as we forgive. We experience the grace of God as others experience it, in terms of forgiveness.
His Extravagance + Our Practicality = God’s Forgiveness
God cannot help us forgive unless we are sown into it and fully divested of our pride to let go of our hurts that we have been holding on to. God cannot do it all. But when we do what only we can, which is a practicality, God does the rest by his grace, which is always extravagance – it’s always more (and different) than what we expect.
As we push apart the divides of pride within us, making room for a special consideration of faith, God gives us what we need to take a risk – to forgive. Then, and only then, God shows us, via actual spiritual experience, the fruit of that forgiveness – he opens our eyes to the needs and situation of the other person we have withheld from.
So it’s not only peace-of-soul we experience having enacted forgiveness; it’s also very much an eye-opening experience, to see the other person opened up to us – by God – in their weakness, such that we can see the need of compassion for them.
When we do what only we can, God’s does what only he can. If, by our wills we act in a forgiving way, God, too, will act – and the Lord’s extravagant grace we then know. Forgiveness is practical for us, yet extravagance for God. Having forgiven, we and the other person enjoy God’s extravagance of blessing.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.