No Exceptions to Forgiveness
By SARAH DAVIS
The one thing I’ve learned about forgiveness is this: the notion that all are deserving will challenge the convictions that you claim to hold. If I believe that God’s pardoning grace is for all, does that truly mean “all,” or just the ones I’ve determined to be worthy enough of fitting into that category? We as human beings are so limited in our perspective and understanding of life, human behavior, and such a vast and complex God. If we are not careful, we can fall into the trap of presumptuous black and white thinking. Not just because of factors like our upbringing or environmental influences, but in the aspect that our minds are simply incapable of fully grasping the knowledge of God. “Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” 1 Corinthians 13:12 (NIV).
I am not suggesting that God exists somewhere in the gray, but rather that He rules over it. He isn’t gray in His thinking, like maybe He isn’t sure or has to phone a friend or get back to us at a later time. His mind is made up: “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:8 (NIV). Before I even realized that I was the offender. Before I became aware of my brokenness and the hurt I was inflicting on myself and others through my own choices. Not by any conscious effort that I put forth on my part. No pre-existing conditions or criteria to meet, or hoops to jump through. When I am having a hard time forgiving someone, I remind myself that I, too, received grace and mercy that I did not deserve. And I’m still receiving it, and until I’m made perfect in Him, I will need it.
I decided once to deliver flowers to the doorstep of someone I needed to ask for forgiveness. It was no heroic measure on my part and was long overdue. As I sat in the silence of that car ride, I looked out the window and clung tightly to the vase in my lap, feeling the weight of the brokenness that we all have, the offender and the offended one. I felt the burden of all that God sees and knows, and how much He loves us in spite of it all.
When Jesus was executed in John 19:30 and said, “It is finished,” it was like God’s declaration of a peace treaty offered to humanity that we couldn’t live without. Even though He was not the offender, there was no other option for him. There was no plan B. No contemplating or counting all the reasons He shouldn’t because we chose what would separate us from Him who is the embodiment of benevolence and kindness and all things good. He didn’t want a world in the here and now or a future one to come if it meant you and I would be estranged from him in it. His is a love that runs towards us. It shows up on your doorstep with a bouquet of flowers and an offer of forgiveness and a promise to fight for you over and over again–even when you are the one who should be delivering the flowers to Him.
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT Maybe there is someone you are holding bitterness and resentment towards today. Perhaps forgiveness is balled up tightly in your fist, and you don’t know how to let go of it, or if you even should. Maybe the person you need to forgive the most is the one looking back in the mirror. I know how that feels. I’ve been there. May the God of compassion and limitless understanding meet you in that space today. May He bring healing to your wounded heart and the courage to release yourself and the person you can’t forgive.
PRAYER Father, thank you for loving me enough to send your Son to make right all the wrongs that separated us. Thank you for the grace that I can’t e