“Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at His footstool-- He is holy. Moses and Aaron were among His priests, and Samuel was among those who called upon His name; they called upon the Lord, and He answered them. He spoke to them in the cloudy pillar; they kept His testimonies and the ordinance He gave them. You answered them, O Lord our God; You were to them God-Who-Forgives, though You took vengeance on their deeds. Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at His holy hill; for the Lord our God is holy” (Psalm 99:5-9).
There's a Spanish story of a father and son who had become estranged. The son ran away, and the father set off to find him. He searched for months to no avail. Finally, in a last desperate effort to find him, the father put an ad in a Madrid newspaper. The ad read: Dear Paco, meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father. On Saturday, 800 Pacos showed up looking for forgiveness and love from their fathers.
The above story illustrates forgiveness is a great need of man. Because we are prone to failure and often find ourselves hurting others, we need forgiveness from both one other and from God. The opening verses above speak about God’s forgiveness. As the Judge of Mankind, even though God executed vengeance on the wicked who would not repent, He was known to the righteous, such as Moses, Aaron, and Samuel, as “God-Who-Forgives”.
What a beautiful way to describe the God we serve, “God-Who-Forgives”! God has always eager desired to forgive His people when they have gone astray from Him. When the Lord appeared to Solomon at night following the building of the temple, He said, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). God is so eager to forgive mankind of their sins He sent His own Son to die for the sins of men to both satisfy His justice (i.e. because the penalty of sin is death and someone had to pay that penalty, Romans 6:23) and at the same time to extend an offer of forgiveness to those who are willing to accept it by humbling themselves and coming back to God (John 3:16). Our Lord is “God-Who-Forgives”!
However, what about me? What do people say about me with regard to forgiveness? Am I known to others as, as ____ (insert your name), the one who forgives? Or, am I known as ____ (insert your name), the one who bears a grudge or is full of bitterness over past hurts? T.D. Jakes stated, ““We cannot embrace God's forgiveness if we are so busy clinging to past wounds and nursing old grudges”. We have to learn to let go of past hurts against us. Not only do we need forgiveness from God, we need forgiveness from one other and we need to be the granters of forgiveness to others.
Lewis B. Smedes wrote, ““To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you”. Many are held in the self-imposed captivity of their own resentment and bitterness because of their unwillingness to forgive others. I want to enjoy the freedom by letting go of such dark feelings by practicing forgiveness. Mark Twain said, “Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it”. Today, regarding the wrongs to done me, I will strive to be a sweet aroma to those around me by practicing forgiveness and not stink up the place by bitterly clinging on to the past wounds of those who have hurt me. I realize I need both to be forgiven and to forgive!
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15).