Desperate Forgiveness (continued)
By: Al Robertson
“The reason why many are still troubled, still seeking, still making little forward progress is because they haven’t yet come to the end of themselves. We’re still trying to give orders, and interfering with God’s work within us.” (A.W. Tozer)
It almost seems impossible, doesn’t it? We might be able to muster up the courage to let occasional insults and slights slide, but when we’re talking about the “big” stuff, something inside of us rises up in rebellion against the idea of forgiving.
However, when we read the scriptures (and especially the New Testament scriptures), we find a recurring theme that seems to say that God is commanding us to do the impossible – to forgive.
Part of the problem with mankind can be found in the Tozer quote above. When it’s about me, all of God’s commands are impossible because what God is calling me to do is to embrace a supernatural life – one that is empowered by the Holy Spirit. Christ didn’t die to create a better version of me – he died (and was raised) to create a new me – one that is fundamentally and radically different from the old me. The new me can’t be the same as the old me because the old me is dead and gone. That’s the call of discipleship.
My response to my old life is compared (in the Bible) to the self-destruction of who I am. It’s like dying, the Bible says. I’m putting the old me to death – on purpose – because I recognize that the old me is full of bitterness, hatred, and chaos – a life of failure. It was a life without purpose or direction. And I was miserable; I was just too distracted by my toys and activities to see just how miserable I was.
So I had to come to the end of myself if I was ever going to be at peace with myself. I had to admit my complete and utter failure as a human being before God could ever do anything with me.
He picked me up, even though I was an abysmal failure at making myself good. And he washed me clean with the blood of Jesus.
What a story! A God who should have burned me alive died in my place so that I could approach him with confidence. He offered me a new life focused on him rather than myself, and I finally jumped at the chance.
But I had to come to the end of myself first.
If you haven’t picked up on it already, I’ve just given you the rationale for forgiving others of what we consider to be “the unforgivable.” I was (and still am) desperate for God’s mercy and grace. I needed it (and still need it) like I need my next breath of fresh air. If I don’t have it, I can’t breath. I will die.
The irony is that the one who desperately needs forgiveness now becomes desperate to forgive. This happens naturally when we realize that we are far more guilty before God than any other human being is before us. I’m nobody. God is holy and righteous. He is all-powerful. He spoke something and the entire universe began to exist in a split second. I, on the other hand, am a sinful and broken rebel – committing acts of treason against the kingdom of God.
The reason that we can never be fulfilled and truly happy unless we forgive is because we can never be fulfilled and truly happy unless we are becoming like God – like Christ. And what is God like? He is forgiving – truly not counting our sins against us.
I am desperate for his love and forgiveness. And the more he forgives me and loves me, the more I am desperate to forgive others of the petty little sins they’ve committed against me.
You will not find joy anywhere else. You can try, but you will fail. So come to the end of yourself and pray that God will allow you to see the depth and width and height of his love and mercy. Then you’ll truly be free. It creates in us a certain desperation – a recognition that I am helpless and alone without his forgiveness.
Desperate for forgiveness – desperate to forgive.