What forgiveness means: “Excuse me?”
We say this as a polite way of asking someone to let us off the hook for an otherwise impolite action — bumping in to someone, interrupting, a burp (or something else ..) We don’t really apologize for our offensive action, but just acknowledge it’s offensiveness. Then we expect the other to be gracious and let it pass without hurt.
Mostly, it’s habitual, said without thought or real emotion. And the one offended is left to not only deal with the offense to their social grace, but the lingering consequences as well.
Too often, we say “excuse me” to God.
We ask Him to overlook our offense. And we go on our merry way, not truly repentant or even acknowledging the “smell” our trespass has left. We don’t want to have to stop, and clean up our mess. We don’t want to be bothered to change our course. Just “excuse” this please, and we’ll be on our way…
No real work required by us.
To be truly repentant takes effort though.
When we confess and ask forgiveness, we are agreeing with the other that what we did was truly wrong. We admit that it is offensive and damaging to the relationship. And we’re admitting to our sorrow and regret that it happened because of the damage to the relationship
Repentence isn’t sorrow because we don’t like the consequences, or because we got caught. We don’t like to acknowledge the pain of another. We don’t want to look outside ourselves. That’s very uncomfortable and often even painful. And above all, we do NOT want to cause ourselves pain.
But to truly acknowledge that our actions caused pain, caused damage, that hurts. To admit that we can’t fix it, change it or erase it, that is uncomfortable. To really take responsibility for our actions and accept the blame? That hurts our pride and our comfort with ourselves, and forces us to change and alter our course of action.
We are then asking that the relationship be restored in spite of the damage we caused.
Forgiveness is really a choice.
That’s what forgiveness truly is. that choice to remain in relationship. What forgiveness means is to desire the other’s company, good opinion and interaction, despite their hurtful behaviour. Forgiveness means we continue in basic faith and good will towards them regardless of how their actions may have angered or hurt.
When someone, in forgiving us, chooses to continue to love and want to spend time in our company, regardless of how we hurt them, it’s a miracle.
God’s forgiveness is miraculous
What’s truly amazing is that God, in His infinite mercy, chooses to love and pursue us, despite the fact that we continually throw it back in His face, hatefully and scornfully denying how we hurt Him!
The cross was the physical demonstration of what we, in our ignorance and rebellion, figuratively and emotionally do to the heart of the Father every single time we choose to sin.
The outward wounds of Christ are the spiritual damage we inflict carelessly on God’s heart, every time we commit an offense on His loving-kindness. That little white lie? A stroke of the hammer on the nail in His hands. That harsh word of judgment? Another lash on His back with the whip. That less-than-kind attitude while driving? Push those thorns in just a bit deeper.
Yet this is the love and mercy of God!
He still chose to suffer our tortures of Him. And He continues to pursue us, knowing that history proves it will be more of the same. He tells us,
“Yes, you hurt me. Yes, you continue to hurt me. But you are so important to me, that no matter what you do, I will *never* stop loving you, and I will *never* stop wanting to be with you! I can go on in relationship with you, because I value our relationship more than myself and my own well-being. I don’t care that you hurt me, and I will forget all about it, just to continue our relationship!”
How great the Father’s love.