Justice, for God’s people, means mercy, forgiveness. If justice is a transaction, forgiveness is the opposite of one. It’s writing off a debt. To forgive is the hardest thing, because to forgive means you absorb the costs that you’re forgiving, it means the loss stays on your books, stays in your heart–until, of course, we take up God’s unending offer of peace and healing, and find it. Forgiveness doesn’t zero things out, right? Do we get this? If I say to you, “All is forgiven.” What I’m saying is, “I’m going to bear the costs of what you did, rather than make you pay me back. The costs are real. But you don’t owe me.” We can’t forgive, can’t show mercy, unless we realize that every act of forgiveness is an act of bearing the costs ourselves, of not demanding payback, whether that’s financial payback, or some meager replacement for the emotional and spiritual costs that we bear.
I’m beating this into the ground because, frankly, for me this was incredibly empowering to own. To forgive means that I bear the costs of your sin against me. I take on the costs, not you. To pray either, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” or “Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.” is to pray dangerously, because it invites God to use our standards and behavior as his own in dealing with us.
Post Written by Pastor Rich Hagopian