Sometimes we think we have more to forgive than we really do. And in the self-nobility of forgiving we forget the true nobility of the One Who paid even for the sins committed against us. True forgiveness recognizes that before I begin to offer my forgiveness, Jesus already paid that debt.
I am reminded that Jesus did say in teaching His disciples to pray, "Forgive us our sins as we also forgive those who sin against us." This is a stinging reminder that Jesus does expect something of us. This flies in the face of grace-abuse which says Jesus loves me, I'm okay, I'm forgiven and now I can go on and treat my fellow travellers in life with contempt, unforgiveness and scorn. I, of all people, run towards grace. But how can I appreciate it unless I know the great sacrifice involved in bringing it to me?
I used to think I had done so much good internal work on forgiving. That I had so much hurt and wrongs done against me that it was the mature thing to work through forgiveness issues. I suppose it is good and true - we do need to grow in forgiveness. But as I ponder the cross, and the message of Jesus, and the challenge He lays before us, I am blown away. Yes, I must forgive when others wrong me. But I think an overemphasis on my need to forgive can often mean I am nursing the wounds, glorifying myself and seeking sympathy for my hurts. I love to dwell on the fact that Jesus died for me and paid for my sins. When I think that He died to pay for the sins of others - including the sins others do that hurt me - I am even more humbled.
Maybe deep down we think God almost owes it to us to forgive us and that there must be some virtue that merits it. I shun the thought, but if I struggle with unforgiveness towards others, then I must boldly say, I wonder if that isn't at the root of it. That I was good enough to forgive, but you, my dear who has hurt me, are not!? May it never be!
None of us had any good to merit forgiveness. And if we believe that we will be humble enough to release others from the burden to do penance for their wrongs towards us. And if we can recognize our great need of forgiveness and how much it blesses us to receive it, we will long to bless others with the same taste of freedom from the debt of sin.
Just a few thoughts for today.
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