“The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But... the Good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’”
― Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 – 1968)
What is forgiveness?
And what is love?
They’re the blessedness of sacrifice,
They’re God’s leading from above.
These two blessings,
Are so God designed,
Forgiveness and love,
They’re so thoroughly kind.
Love and forgiveness are two of a kind; both come of God. No human being can claim to love like the Good Samaritan without knowing the love of God. This love does not come independent of the Lord of All Creation.
Forgiveness, it may be argued, is a gratuitous portent of life that is completely incomprehensible if not for love. We may ask, “What is forgiveness?” or “How do I forgive?” but both questions are difficult to answer unless we have experienced this thing, forgiveness, either in receipt or as purveyor. Forgiveness cannot be understood apart from love.
The ‘Good Samaritan’ Characterised
When we take our eyes off fear for self-protection, and we allow ourselves to be one for the moment with God, we become characterised more as the Good Samaritan. But, mostly, we cannot take any credit, for it is God that has made us give up on fear for the grander prize – the evolvement in us of his miraculous will.
The love of the Good Samaritan character that sees the vulnerability in the flailing human character – the one needing help – is palpable. There is neither a second thought for assisting, nor is there any ego involved. They are one with God. Their act to help out is completely chivalrous.
So it is with forgiveness.
True forgiveness has come to a place where no other thought of correspondence is entered into. There is no other option. To forgive makes complete sense. God has convinced us and we are glad of it. The act of forgiveness, furthermore, is secondary, but it is the act that reinforces the attitude. The attitude cannot stand without the act, but the act without the attitude is but legalism – it is no sacrifice, but a missing of the mark it is.
True sacrifice does what it does because no other option makes sense. Sacrifice is, therefore, an act of the will that acts because there is nothing but love compelling it. It, for that moment, is so completely under God’s influence.
True forgiveness is sacrificial, in that the person forgiving sees no other option than to love. God has taken over. Forgiveness, then, has become entirely about the other person, so by love we continue to reach ‘into’ them for as long as it takes. That’s when God works in us miraculously.
The act of forgiveness reinforces the attitude. Act and the right attitude will follow.
Love is compelling,
Forgiveness is neat,
Commit to both in full,
And in no way can you be beat.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.