Everything here is from Unspoken Sermons. I’ll include a little commentary, although it probably isn’t necessary.
Forgiveness can never be indifference. Forgiveness is love towards the unlovely.
Very succinct and well-said. I’ve learned this lesson first-hand, you cannot simply say, “Ok, I forgive you” and then go on hating in your heart any more than you can say the words, “I love you” but retain any form of hatred inside. Forgiveness is love and, in particular, toward those that we may feel don’t deserve it.
But we don’t love others because they deserve it or not, we must be possessed of the pure love of Christ and love because we are becoming love as God is love.
It may be an infinitely less evil to murder a man than to refuse to forgive him. The former may be the act of a moment of passion: the latter is the heart’s choice. It is spiritual murder, the worst, to hate, to brood over the feeling that excludes, that, in our microcosm, kills the image, the idea of the hated.
We tend to not think of what we create in our minds as real, yet every choice we make is first formulated in the mind. We first create the pattern and then execute it. Our thoughts are indeed real and we will be judged by them as well as our actions.
We listen to the voice of our own hurt pride or hurt affection (only the latter without the suggestion of the former, thinketh no evil) to the injury of the evil-doer. In as far as we can, we quench the relations of life between us; we close up the passages of possible return. This is to shut out God, the Life, the One. For how are we to receive the forgiving presence while we shut out our brother from our portion of the universal forgiveness, the final restoration, thus refusing to let God be All in all? If God appeared to us, how could he say, “I forgive you,” while we remained unforgiving to our neighbour?
A very good friend and teacher once put it this way, “When we choose not to forgive, we burn the bridge over which we must pass ourselves.”
For God to say to such a man, “I cannot forgive you,” is love as well as necessity. If God said, “I forgive you,” to a man who hated his brother, and if (as is impossible) that voice of forgiveness should reach the man, what would it mean to him? How would the man interpret it? Would it not mean to him, “You may go on hating. I do not mind it. You have had great provocation, and are justified in your hate”? No doubt God takes what wrong there is, and what provocation there is, into the account; but the more provocation, the more excuse that can be urged for the hate, the more reason, if possible, that the hater should be delivered from the hell of his hate, that God’s child should be made the loving child that he meant him to be. The man would think, not that God loved the sinner, but that he forgave the sin, which God never does.
We all want justice, but it cannot be achieved by harboring hatred. In fact, it poisons our own soul while we make an enemy out of one created in the image of God. Like Ammon who saw past the evils of King Lamoni and ended up saving his soul along with thousands of others, we too have the opportunity to extend the hand of mercy to those that need it most including ourselves.
No greater example exists of Jesus hanging bloodied and broken on the cross saying, “Forgive them.” (Luke 24:34)