We all have someone who has wronged us. Someone who has lied to us, cheated us, taken advantage of us, or hurt our feelings. You could probably think of that someone right now and it would stir up all kinds of resentment and pain and maybe even anger. You have likely even spoken the words, “I’ll forgive…but I’ll never forget!” I have too…I have been there. I have been in that place where you trust little, share little, and love even less convincing yourself that the only way to protect yourself from all the hurt, pain, and anger is to shut everyone out so no one will get close enough to open those wounds again. I get it…I had been stewing for nearly 20 years, rummaging through the baggage of hurts long past. The justice I had hoped for came back on me with a vengeance, leaving me angry, bitter, cold, and distant. This is what unforgiveness does…it is why Micah 6:8 tells us to reach beyond the justice we desire…to mercy.
In the simplest terms, mercy shown when we choose to withhold the justice deserved for the wrongs done to us. We choose to not hold the person accountable for what they have done. We choose to forgive…and then forget. That last part there…the forgetting…is the difficult part. We can all find a way to be compassionate enough to not want someone to feel the same hurts and pain we have felt. But at the same moment we say, “I forgive” we also say, “I won’t let you get close enough to do it again”. This is not mercy…this is us trying to protect ourselves, rather than resting in the one who has promised to be our protector. When the Good Lord forgave us for all our sins…while we were still in them…did he also at the same time tell us to stay away until we have proven ourselves worthy of his presence? Does he keep a grand ledger of every wrong we have done and asked forgiveness for?
We are told in Luke 17:4, “…if he sins against your seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you saying, ‘I repent’, you shall forgive him.”
Why? Why should I go above and beyond what justice demands? Why would I allow myself to be vulnerable to the hurt and pain and anger again? Why would I put myself at risk again?
Because of 1 John 1:9 “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Because he is faithful, and he alone is just…we are not. We have all sinned and fallen short. And he has reached far beyond the justice required to offer mercy through Jesus Christ.
To love mercy is far more than saying, “I forgive you”. It is saying, “there is nothing that could make me not love you”. There are no conditions to mercy…no strings attached…no ultimatums. This is no easy task. We are not able to be so forgiving, so loving, so merciful…not on our own anyway. We may want to do justly, and we may say we love mercy, but the only way we can really do either is…
to walk humbly…