If ever there was a divine litmus test which exposes the sinfulness of our human nature, and reveals how much we each fail to live by God’s Divine Standard, surely it is in the areas of forgiveness, mercy and love. While God commands us to love and to forgive those who offend us, and even to go the extra mile by praying for those who wrong us in some way, our sinful old man of the flesh just doesn’t want to have anything to do with it.
The old man — who is rooted in human pride — doesn’t want to forgive or to forget; and he most certainly doesn’t want to pray for those who have wronged him. In fact, quite often, our old man isn’t happy with anything short of revenge. “Make them pay for what they did to you!” he screams out.
I know that I am not alone when I say that this is a battle which we all constantly face as Christians. We truly want to live by God’s Law of Love, but oh that old man!
Forgiveness does not come easy; and the greater the offense, the more difficult it is for us to forgive; but then we are reminded of what Jesus said in the Gospels:
“But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Matthew 6:15, KJV
God couldn’t have placed the bar any higher than that. He set a standard which forces us to learn to forgive, or else.
I know that in my own life, there have been a few incidents where I feel that I have been wronged and treated unfairly. Despite the passage of many years in a few cases, and despite my knowledge of God’s Word, when those bad memories occasionally surge forward in my mind, my evil heart is quick to lash out all over again at those persons who were involved, figuratively speaking. Truly, the Prophet Jeremiah spoke the truth when he wrote:
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
Jeremiah 17:9, KJV
And, of course, as Jesus Himself said:
“But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.”
Matthew 15:18-20, KJV
Perhaps it is because to forgive is not a human attribute, but rather a Divine Attribute; and until we have truly been perfected in God’s Love — which oft times means being honest with ourselves, and recognizing our own dismal, sinful condition, and our own need for forgiveness and mercy — we simply do not possess the power to forgive and to love others as we should.
It is a daily uphill battle to live in a Christ-like manner. There are so many things working against us; mainly our own selves. As you may recall, even the Apostle Paul recognized this ongoing battle between the Spirit, and the sinful desires of the flesh. Thus he wrote:
“For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”
Romans 7:14-25, KJV
So by God’s Grace, through the power of Christ working in us and through us, we will each strive to do better, and to live more like Him.
For a more in-depth look at this topic, please consider reading my article “Love, Mercy, Forgiveness And Chastisement” and related articles.