After spending any amount of time in honest introspection, we will confront issues of forgiveness. We might see things we have done wrong in a new light and realize we are need of forgiveness, or we may discover ourselves clinging to some long hidden resentment we would do well to release. When confronting these issues, we may discover we feel ambivalence concerning forgiveness.
Different spiritual traditions have different perspectives on the conditions for receiving God’s forgiveness. Some require restitution and a demonstrated change in behavior whereas others require forgiving others. I might feel overwhelmed by the gravity of my wrongdoing, seriously doubting if any restitution could ever be sufficient to merit forgiveness. Similarly, I may feel I don’t deserve forgiveness because of my unwillingness to forgive others. Or, I might equate free grace with cheap grace, and discount the value of anything that I am worthy to receive.
The freeing truth is none of us are worthy. God’s great mercy eclipses all our merit. Traditions that require restitution and changed behavior as prerequisites to forgiveness embrace this truth no less robustly than traditions that only require forgiving others. There are several reasons we don’t reach for the mercy God is waiting to extend. Don’t rule out mercy, though. It glorifies God when we seek it.
If you find yourself trapped in self-judgment and feel you don’t deserve forgiveness, I hope these verses and breathing prayers will free you to reach out your hand.
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and do not forget all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the Pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy (Psalm 103: 2-4)
Inhale: what God desires
Exhale: what I deserve
Join the conversation. How have you released resentment when the person who needed your forgiveness was you?
Copyright 2012 Stephanie Walker All rights reserved. Visit http://www.AcrossTraditions.com.