“Large and frequent doses of forgiveness are necessary in any enduring relationship, and certainly our relationship to God is no exception,” writes Martin Copenhaver. “This is why the people held the idea of divine forgiveness so deeply embedded in Hebrew Scripture very close.” The psalms are replete with divine mercy for those who persistently disappoint God. God’s love is steadfast. God’s “mercy endures forever” (Ps 136:1, NKJV). At the same time, Scripture expresses the divine expectation that those who experience such lifechanging mercy will become merciful themselves.
Scripture reveals this clear theme about God’s work in the world: what God does for us, God desires to do through us for others. Being loved by God should lead us to love our neighbors. Being forgiven by God could move us to forgive. Yet, too often we resist being faithful stewards of what we receive. We hoard what we were given to share.
Jesus is visiting Simon, who doesn’t see his own vast need for God’s forgiveness. When a woman, who Luke identifies only as a sinner, enters the house and expresses gratitude for Jesus with deep emotion, the host becomes judgmental towards them both. Simon only sees the woman in terms of her past; Jesus considers the person she is becoming. Her kindness shows that she knows far more about God’s forgiving love than self-righteous Simon does.
Forgiveness frees us for a future that is not imprisoned by our past. When we fully receive such forgiveness, we develop gratitude and love worth sharing. And when we forgive, we experience the joy of passing on what we can never pay back.
Martin B. Copenhaver, To Begin at the Beginning (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007) 36.
When has being forgiven led you to forgive? When has withholding forgiveness tied you to the past and kept you from becoming who you want to be?
God of restoring love, help us see that you forgive us daily. What you have done for us, may you do through us for others. Amen.