**And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying I repent; thou shalt forgive him. ** Luke 17:4
Forgiveness is a hard task for all of us. The only one that has a handle on it is the Lord himself.
All of us have had issues with someone at some time. All of us have had difficulty forgiving what someone has done to us. Whether it was verbal or deed, the offense lingers in our minds for hours, days, even years. We go over it again and again, dissecting every detail.
Over the years, I have heard many definitions and many justifications concerning forgiveness or the lack of it.
The thing is that forgiving is hard. Giving someone a clean slate is like the title of this post says…divine, it is of the character of God. We make excuses as to why we cannot or do not have to forgive so and so. We may even bring our complaints before God about why we feel we don’t have to give someone another chance.
I believe that forgiveness means a complete pardon. The clean slate that I mentioned earlier. If we think of a criminal that has spent years in prison and then is pardoned and given his freedom again, whether innocent or guilty of the crime, he is allowed to go free and rebuild his life. He cannot be put into prison again for that same crime.
Or if we think more personally of Christ’s forgiving our own sins, our mistakes, failures, and shortcomings as an act of compassion and divine love maybe we can grasp a little better what it means to forgive.
The Lord does not distance himself from those He has forgiven. He draws nearer to them. He blesses and cares for and desires more time and deep communion with them. He wants to know them better. And He wants to help them let go of their flaws.
I can’t honestly say that is the way I have treated those who have offended or harmed me in some way. I believe in a complete pardon, but I rarely give it. I might give them a second or even third chance but I hold them at a distance. I keep an eye on them and build a wall around myself for self preservation.
There are many aspects of life that take our lifetime to learn and perfect. Forgiveness is one of them. It requires divine intervention. It requires turning a blind eye to the flaws in others and in ourselves. It requires grace and mercy. It requires Christ-like love.
There is a key word in this verse that we have not talked about. A word that clarifies the process of forgiveness. Tomorrow’s post we’ll talk about it.