Skip to main content

Forgiving as God, Forgiving as Man

            What does it mean to forgive as God?  What does it mean to forgive as man?  To forgive as God, God said it was necessary for God to become man.  Forgiveness insisted that God shed His own blood. To forgive as God is a perfect and eternal action that results in perceptible and mysterious outcomes.   Walter Wangerin (As for Me and My House) calls forgiveness a divine absurdity.  Forgiveness is the intention of the Lenten journey.  How can we conceive of what it means to forgive as God?
Evidentially, it is to forgive as man.  God says it was necessary for man to forgive in the same manner as God.  In Matthew 6:12 Jesus says, And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  He goes on to explain:  For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins (Matthew 6:14-15). God forgives as God and asks me to most fully receive my forgiveness when I forgive in the same manner as He forgave.  Forgiveness insisted that I fully receive the forgiveness of God by forgiving all who offend me on earth.  In this view, real forgiveness requires a figurative shedding of blood on my part as I release all my human instincts for vengeance against the wrongs that others commit against me.  This is not possible in my humanity.  I must receive God’s forgiveness in order to give forgiveness.  Jesus made it distinct in Mark 11:25-26:   And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.  But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.
            I don’t want to forgive in an effort to protect myself.  I instinctively believe that if I could get payback, right all injustices and cause my offenders to experience pain that I will be better off.  Even if I don’t pursue payback, the least I can do is to use my anger to keep the offender away from my soul through avoidance or never forgetting what they have done to me.  God knows that as long as I remain in that state of mind, I have not truly reflected on what His forgiveness means.  God is not a tit-for-tat God.  He is not keeping score when it comes to forgiveness.  Rather He is inviting me to the beauty of true forgiveness.  I don’t fully receive the forgiveness of God until I am experiencing the forgiveness of man.  St. John Chrysostom (Homilies on the Gospel of St. Matthew) says: Nothing makes us so God-like as our willingness to forgive. 
            Being forgiven by God as man so transforms our souls that we are released from our human limitations.  As St. Augustine wrote in Confessions:   There is no sin or crime committed by another which I myself am not capable of committing through my weakness; and if I have not committed it, it is because God, in his mercy, has not allowed me to and has preserved me in good. 
            My long list of sins that I focus on this Lenten season will aid me in receiving my forgiveness most fully by reminding me that no matter how horrific the sins that others commit against me, they are nothing compared to my sins against God.  When others sin against me, I forgive as I think about what God has forgiven in me. 
Copyright © 2013. Deborah R. Newman www.teatimeforyoursoul.com  All Rights Reserved.
 



 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

You Shall Not Be Overcome

I distinctly remember sending this quote by Julian of Norwich to a recently widowed friend of mine over ten years ago.  You will not be overcome.
God did not say you will not be troubled,
You will not be belaboured,
You will not be disquieted;
But God said, You will not be overcome.
The quote in one of my devotional books for July 23, which marks the day I became a widow myself is by the same author.  “One day God spoke to me and I heard these words, “you won’t be overcome.”  God wants us to pay attention to His words.  God wants us to be strong in our certainty in Him, always, both in good times and in bad.  The Lord loves us, and God so enjoys our company.  God loves being with us and wants us to love Him and enjoy being with Him and trust Him completely, and all will be well.”  As I write this six years since his death I can attest to the reality that all will be well.  God chose to bless me with a second marriage to a wonderful man who holds my hand through this hur…

The Worst

What is the worst thing you think could happen to you?  There are so many options in a fallen world that it is hard to consider the worst.  We try not to think about it.  We do think we are going through the worst thing when we lose a loved one, are betrayed by a friend or family, sent to prison, or become the victim of a crime.  You know the worst thing that has happened to you.  You can think of someone for whom you are grateful that what happened to that person didn’t happen to you.               The world is full of frightening and dreaded options of worst case scenarios.  When you read the Bible, it is not hard to decide what the worst thing that could happen in your lifetime would be.  The Bible makes it clear that the worst is that you do not believe in the Son of God, Jesus Christ, and be saved.               That sounds like a Sunday School answer doesn’t it?  It doesn’t feel that bad to say “No Thank You” to God.  Many don’t even recognize the day that they to…

Repenting for My Worship

Psalm 51: 15-17 describes true worship: Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
               The Lenten Season shoves in our faces the reality of who God is.  He is the God who killed His Son to conquer death for the humans He had formed with His hands in love.  What kind of God does that?  What kind of God creates heavens and earths, all the while knowing that the inhabitants could turn on Him in an instant? He had the power to destroy everything He created, yet finds a way to allow all the inhabitants to have their own way, either to follow Him or follow their own will?  He is the GREAT I AM.  He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  He is worthy of all praise.  He created us to bring Him praise (Isaiah 43:21).  He declares that His Son is worthy of even higher prai…