Jesus said, “... but if you don’t forgive other people, neither will your heavenly Father forgive your wrongdoings.”
— Matthew 6:15 (USC)
Justice is huge for God.
Because the heart is so central in the execution and care of our relationships God takes fundamental charge over how we interact with others.
It’s probably about as simple as this: If we struggle to forgive someone, we have struggled to obey God. If we refuse to forgive someone, we have refused to obey God. But if we have surrendered our will in the discharge of our passions, we have obeyed God to the very letter of our heart’s content.
Forgiving other people their ‘wrongs’ is, hence, more about obeying the Lord, whose wisdom eternally and infinitely surpasses our own. God knows why forgiveness is important, interpersonally and personally. Frankly, we don’t. We don’t know all the implications for forcing our will into action. This is precisely why we must trust God, for the Lord is faithful.
God knows forgiving people is hard; that it requires us to wrestle at the level of both mind and heart. But obedience transcends both of these: the mind and the heart. Obedience does! It is thoughtless, and in favour of the will and Word of the Lord.
We only ever have to think of the negative effects – on either ourselves or others – of withholding our forgiveness to be motivated to forgive. But such a motive is actually beside the point. God commands us to forgive. This is why it’s important.
The journey to forgive someone who hurt us is the journey of faith. Faith is unquestioned obedience. Such a journey is blessed of the faithfulness of God. Our obedience is never betrayed.
But we can never be motivated to forgive because we will be rewarded by God’s faithfulness. We are to obey because of the simple reason that it’s right. That’s the key.
God can only bless a heart that contents itself in him. Our Lord will not be coerced one iota. This sounds unnecessarily harsh until we discover by life that it’s true, which is to hardly mention the dogma.
God will reward the soul who gives up their own whimsical justice for the Lord’s all-sufficient and righteous justice. And that’s what agreeing to forgive a transgressor is all about: God’s justice.
He who has forgiven us our transgressions so richly desires we follow that call in our own lives.
To live after the grace of God in all our affairs is to be blessed by the Lord.
QUESTIONS in REVIEW:
1. Can you see the connection between faith and obedience in establishing the forgiveness we are required to offer?
2. What price are we prepared to pay for our withholding of forgiveness? Is our grip on our eternal prize to be so loosened? Why would we agree to hold God up to contempt? How is wisdom otherwise to prevail?
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.
Note: USC version is Under the Southern Cross, The New Testament in Australian English (2014). This translation was painstakingly developed by Dr. Richard Moore, a NT Greek scholar, over nearly thirty years.