11.16.2010, 1:26 AM
I lay awake considering what it truly means to forgive another person. In Christianity, the first step of coming to faith is admitting that you are a sinner. So, then what does this mean in light of God’s forgiveness of our sins? Is the first step in our hands, that is to say that we ask for forgiveness, or, because of Christ’s death on the cross for the forgiveness of sins, has the first step already taken place? Saying that God’s love for us, thereby Christ’s death, is a gift would imply that the first step in the Christian life is to take this forgiveness that Christ has given. Ultimately, in doing this, we should begin to see how sinful, or otherwise unworthy, we are to receive such a gift (causing us to be eternally grateful via good works, extending the same gift to other, etc), but the gift is there for us to receive despite whatever state we are in, or in whatever condition we believe we are in, apologetic or not (meaning those “things”, or right ways of thinking, are not what make us forgiven). To say that I must first accept my own faults, by way of apologizing for them, puts God’s grace into such an idea of my own design that I make Him unable to forgive me of my sins, stealing the grace out of the gift, no longer allowing it to be just that, a gift, but turning it into an achievement that I control from my own receiving. Or could it be that the receiving of the gift, which is of forgiveness, and the admission of unworthiness, which is our sinfulness, are one in the same?
Back to why I am being kept in this wakeful state; I am finding it hard to understand forgiving others. If it is the combined powers of confession of sin and acceptance of Christ’s grace that provide forgiveness for us in God, what of a person that does not confess of their sins, yet freely accepts the forgiveness another offers? Obviously, in the above example of Christ’s forgiveness, these two ideas (confession and acceptance) go together, but in many man-to-man scenarios this may not always be the case. Take, for example, brothers who have fallen into some sort of enmity due to many actions of brother A (we’ll call him Adam) to brother B (Bob). After a long struggle, Bob decides that his relationship with Adam should be reconciled and goes to his brother. They speak and come to the conclusion that, while Adam also seeks to be reconciled with his brother, he is not apologetic towards Bob and believes that Bob should be remorseful for his own actions. Even after admitting his own faults in the situation, Bob still finds Adam unwilling to look at his own mistakes from the past that have led to the hostility between these brothers. In this circumstance, does/can Bob still forgive Adam when Adam feels as though he is not the one who is responsible and unwilling to repent? Does not my own forgiveness, in Christ, have to start from my own position of humility? How then can I forgive a brother that does not see what they have done to hurt me?
I should start by quoting Paul, talking about love, “in that when we were still sinners, Christ died for our sins.” This suggests that while we may not have been alive, Christ still willingly sacrificed Himself in order to forgive the sins that we had not yet committed, against Him or anyone else, in order to be reconciled with us. So, how much more should we, as forgiven individuals, forgive those that have committed sins against us? When Peter asks a similar question, Jesus tells him that he should forgive an infinite number of times (seven times seven). The answer seems so obvious now that I lay out my thoughts on the screen. I think of the wondrous hymn lines that sing out, “My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought! My sin, not in part, but the whole, is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more. Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!” Who then am I, as an agent of reconciliation in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, to refuse forgiveness to a brother or sister? I am a no one that is offered nothing, but love, and find it essential to offer you the same, despite whatever state you are in, or whatever condition you believe we you are in, apologetic or not. Love is a gift neither of us deserves; I pray that we do justice by it.
For His Kingdom’s sake,