You know you should. Forgive, that is. You know you should do it. And quick. You even know you should ask God to forgive you. Like, now.
Yet somehow sinful pride so often holds us back, making our lives even more of a complicated mess.
My son models this call of being quick to forgive and to ask for forgiveness — for any perceived offense. Sometimes he’s too zealous in his request, even asking others to forgive him for thoughts he had about them but never shared with them. Awkward. But good.
I’d rather he be too quick to forgive and request forgiveness than become hardened to sin like most of the rest of us.
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you. (Eph. 4:32 NKJV)
We are called by God to imitate his lead on this forgiveness thing. As we look at His example, what do we see that might give us a plan for being quick to forgive?
- God is eager to forgive. First, the facts: “The Lord is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.” (Ps. 103:8 NKJV) It’s as if it’s overflowing out of Him. So often we visualize God as a grudge-holding manipulator whose happy to finally have us at a disadvantage when we stumble — can you say “Projecting!” That’s what we do. But not God. In truth, He is always poised to pounce at the slightest opening to forgive all who ask. Is that the ready-and-waiting condition of your heart today?
- God forgives quickly. “If we confess our sins…he will forgive our sins….” (1 John 1:9 NKJV) There’s no time-delay with God. There’s no committee to review the request. There’s no standing in line. No weighing of the leverage He has over us. Forgiveness is instant — like that powdered stuff they call coffee in a jar — only without the stirring. We ask. It’s gone. I wonder if we give it out as quickly as it’s given to us.
- God takes offenses seriously but holds them loosely. As the just Judge of all men, He doesn’t look the other way or pretend it didn’t happen. He confronted Peter in a powerful way for his cowardly denial. Once forgiven though, Jesus never mentioned it again. We would do everyone around us a tremendous service if we would do take the same approach with those who wrong us.
- We must be quick to ask. Instead of rationalizing away our failures in defense of our foolish pride, let’s treat them with the urgency they deserve. We wouldn’t hang around with radioactive waste arguing about just how radioactive it might be. Well, most of us wouldn’t. Why dilly-dally while a far more pernicious but equally invisible evil eats away at our soul? Note the priority Jesus places on it:
Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. (Matt. 5:23-24 NKJV)
Not even worship comes before our urgent need to forgive and seek forgiveness. Maybe it’s time we started un-complicating our lives by being like God — at least when it comes to forgiveness.
The rest of the mess might take us all a little time.
Do you find it easier to forgive those who offend you? What other truths have you found helpful to to ask for forgiveness before sin erodes our soul? Leave a comment here to share the growth.