Do you struggle to forgive those who sin against you? It might be related to how you view the weight of your sin forgiven by a Holy God. Jesus said that the debtor who has been forgiven much loves much, but the person who has been forgiven little loves little (Luke 7:47). Too often, we perceive God as grading on the curve, while we minimize our sin in comparison to others.
Forgiveness welds justice and mercy together at the cross of Jesus Christ (Psalm 103:10, 12; Isaiah 1:18; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Micah 7:10; John 3:17; Hebrews 10:10, 18).
Jesus absolved the sin of the woman caught in adultery because He bore it on His heart as the Producer, Provider, and Perpetuator of Forgiveness (Ephesians 1:7). When He asked her who was left to condemn her, she looked around at her surroundings: “‘No one, sir,’ she said. ‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin’” (John 8:11).
Make no mistake, Jesus’ forgiveness did not condone the woman’s sin; rather, it reflected His sovereignty to forgive it (Mark 2:5). Condoning a sin winks at the moral violation. Our Holy God cannot just turn His back on sin and pretend that it did not happen, nor can He bend the rules and let sin just pass by. Mercy void of justice is exoneration which denies the offender’s responsibility. Forgiveness is the only concept that gives full weight to both justice and mercy because God is totally just and totally merciful.
We are created in God’s image, so we have a moral, justice grid and a merciful, compassionate one. We are designed to reflect the heart of God to everyone we encounter, including those who sin against us. Archbishop Temple said, “To return evil for good is devilish. To return good for good is human. To return good for evil is divine.” (Alistair Begg, The Hand of God (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 161). When we surrender our lives to Christ, we are called to forgive (Romans 12:14, 17-18).
Jesus paid a debt He did not owe because we owed a debt we could not pay. Pray to Him: “Jesus, I thank you for saving me from my sin and giving me eternal life. Please empower me to forgive others as you have forgiven me.”