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Pointers along the way #267

Are you waiting for an apology?
- Jacob Ninan

We know that if we have done or said something wrong to someone the least we could do is to apologise (Mt.5:23,24). In some cases we need to make restitution too. We can also take that opportunity to forgive others who have done wrong to us, because we know that we can't go to God for forgiveness if we are not willing to forgive others (Mt.6:14,15).

But when we think of forgiving others some people find it hard when they think of what they have suffered at the hands of some others. Of course it's not right to belittle the hurt, pain or losses we have gone through because of what someone else did. They are real, and our sense of injustice is genuine. Instead of trying to ignore it or tell ourselves that it is really nothing, what we can do is to share it frankly with Jesus. He understands, because He has gone through it all Himself (He.4:15,16). He knows what it is to be treated unjustly, cruelly and callously, to say the least. What was His reaction at that time?

He forgave--freely, unconditionally, and without waiting for any sign of remorse from the crowd that crucified Him. He said, "Father, forgive them, because they really don't know what they are doing" (Lk.23:34). It may appear that what He did was unreasonable, unjust, unrighteous, unwise, and even weak. But, in fact, it was the highest point of His life as a Man, when He chose to forgive those who had done this to Him who had done no wrong to anyone.

Some people say that they are waiting for the others to come and apologise first. They feel justified because that is what God demands before He would forgive anyone. But we shouldn't forget that God is God! He is perfect, without fault, and He does not need anyone to forgive Him because He hasn't done anyone any wrong. He is also the One who has made the law. He would negate His justice and righteousness if He forgave us just like that. You remember how He had to first pay for our sins with the death of His Son before He could forgive us? So in every way He has the rights to ask us to repent and confess our sins before He forgives us.

But what about us? We are just recipients of God's mercy and unmerited favour. Our own sins have been forgiven as a gift from God and not because we had any rights. If we have been forgiven so freely, how dare we think we can demand that others should first apologise or set things right before we forgave them? Look at the example Jesus has given us as a Man. The Jews who crucified Him did not repent or acknowledge their sin. They were so blindly confident of themselves that they even said His blood could be on them and their children for all they cared (Mt.27:25). Yet Jesus forgave them freely.

We mustn't also forget that most people may be unaware of the sinfulness of their words or action towards us as we perceive them--just as we are also about ourselves! So if we wait for them to apologise first, we may never be able to forgive most people.