When the kids were younger, I enjoyed having Christmas caroling parties for them. We’d make tree ornaments, strung popcorn, went out caroling in the neighborhood, and generally made a fun mess in preparation for the holiday. (Sometimes, the mess persisted well beyond the holiday, you know, kind of like the pine needles…)
One such party left an ache in this mom’s heart. Our youngest had become the brunt of “girl drama” and had for some reason been “shunned” by the friends she had invited, save one (bless her awesome heart). You may imagine my little girl’s pain when no one else showed up, but only another mother can imagine my anguish and anger at such cruelty to my beloved child.
My “baby” had to deal with the forgiveness issues, but someone else did also, (who had a harder time with it, I might add), because without realizing it, those youngsters’ actions were against me.
Somehow, we’ve missed that in our culture. We may have the character to ask forgiveness of the one we’ve harmed, but what of the others who were also effected by our lapse of integrity?
And more importantly, what about God? How did my action effect Him?
Joseph understood this when his master’s wife tried to seduce him:
“How could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God.”
David it got it right concerning Bathsheba:
“Then David confessed to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the LORD.’”
And Jesus confirmed this understanding, since the only one who can forgive is the one who was wronged:
“Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, ‘My child, your sins are forgiven.’”
It would seem that the Biblical understanding of forgiveness is that it is primarily and foremost against our Creator. And I can only imagine, in the infinitesimal understanding of my own mothering experience, what pain I have caused my Father God when I have wronged any of His precious creation. And love for Him demands not only an apology, but true (oh, here’s such a good old-fashioned word!) repentance.
Those of my generation might remember the unfortunately immortal Hollywood line: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”
Rubbish! Love prompts us to say “I’m sorry” so many times, and in so many creative ways! Hang it all, love intends for us to say “I’m sorry” when it wasn’t our fault to begin with!
With that in mind, and I say this with the utmost respect, God was saying “I’m sorry” when He hung on a cross. Not that He had anything to repent of, clearly. But His deep sorrow for our sinful condition penetrated His soul worse than the nails that penetrated His wrists.
If He forgives me, who am I to not forgive?
Genesis 39:9; 2 Samuel 12:13; Mark 2:5 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.