Forgiveness has been on my mind a lot over the last few months due to events in my own life. However, in recent days the theme of forgiveness seems to have snowballed. Beverly and I have been talking a lot about it in relation to a marriage retreat we will be involved in at the end of March. Further, she is in Abilene until tomorrow for a forgiveness workshop. And then, last night as we studied David, the subject was forgivenss (or David's lack of).
Well, back to Randy Harris: In his class I attended on Tuesday, he made a remark that really struck me. I'm not quoting here, but I think this gets to the gist of his comment. He said it is the cross, and only the cross. that empowers a human being to be able to forgive. We do not tend toward forgiveness naturally. And even when we try, our attempts are pretty feeble. For a season we forgive, only for the issue to raise its head again later -- sending us back to square one.
But it's at the cross where perfect forgiveness is demonstrated for us. We would not know it except for the cross.
I want to be a forgiver for a number of reasons. For one, just because I know that I feel better when I release my grudge and forgive. But that is kind of a self-serving reason.
I want to be a forgiver because the goal of my life is to become conformed into the image of Jesus.
But foremost in my mind at this season of my life is this: I want to be a forgiver because to the extent I do not forgive, I am revealing my lack of understanding and appreciation for the cross. To the extent that I withhold forgiveness, I am announcing how poorly I have grasped the mercy of God that has been extended to me.
George Herbert put it like this: "He who cannot forgive others destroys the bridge over which he himself must pass." This statement would certainly agree with a number of things Jesus Himself said on the subject (Matthew 6: 14-15, Matthew 18: 35.)