Does forgiveness depend on the perpetrator asking for it or must we forgive without being asked to? If forgiveness is simply a “feeling”, then could it last or end? Is forgiveness peace within or is it blotting out the perpetrator’s sins against us? Is forgiveness synonymous with forgetting? Can we attain the forgiveness of those who did evil to us in the same capacity that God does? After all, God sees us as white as snow when we ask His forgiveness; can we or do we see it the same way? What actions confirm that we forgive? Is forgiveness an act and a feeling or is it simply an action of obedience to God? Does forgiveness come to an end once we have finally & reluctantly given God the ‘permission’ to enact vengeance? Vengeance is His…not our own. How does God’s requirement of forgiveness differ from the world’s? What does forgiveness, or lack of it, have to do with the reason for sickness and disease? We need to forgive those who have hurt us before we can take Communion, don’t we? God says that if we don’t, it is the reason why many in the church are sick! Does high level anger arise from unforgiveness? Can God forgive us even when we don’t ask Him to? Do we need to ask God to forgive our frail human inability to forgive? Are there levels of forgiveness or is the most evil act as forgivable as the most seemingly benign one? Would our delegating what is the most evil to forgive a judgement that we should make or do we leave it up to The Divine Judge…God Himself…or is it able to be judged by ourselves based on the Power, Love, Sound Mind, and authority He gives to us? For me, each question I have in my heart about forgiveness gives birth to more questions. So, I ask myself, how do I forgive? This last question is ‘yes’ for the reason that, at the end of the day, it’s another burden Jesus asks us to give to Him. I must forgive in order to receive His eternal forgiveness. If we want to please God, we have to learn about how to forgive by giving Him that heavy weight.
My thoughts: The mystery of forgiveness is probably simple; however, I think the real mystery and definition of forgiveness is found when we ourselves are forgiven. There is unbridled Power in the Blood of the Lamb of God…even to the level of forgiving even the most evil!
In any case, here’s what the King of Kings & Lord of Lords, Jesus the Messiah, says about this in a parable the Bible calls “The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant”.
The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant
Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”
Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.
“But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his fee and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all. And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.
“So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”