And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he replied, “Say it, Teacher.” “A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” (Luke 7:40-42)
Forgiveness is not easy. It may be easier in some circumstances than others, but it’s definitely not a simple process. It’s not the same in every situation. There will be times when someone says “I’m sorry,” and you can easily say, “No problem!” Other times you might hold onto the hurt for years. Someone might not actually say he or she is sorry. You might wait, expecting an apology and expecting to be able to forgive once the apology is given, but if you can’t forgive without the apology, you likely can’t forgive with the apology. Your forgiveness isn’t reliant on someone’s guilt and offering of forgiveness. We want justice and can’t imagine getting it without something tangible.
God’s forgiveness doesn’t require justice. If it did, none of us would be forgiven. God’s way of forgiving is undeserved. Even when we know someone doesn’t deserve our forgiveness, we have to extend it when we’re trying to live by God’s will. We forgive because of who God is. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you don’t learn lessons from what has happened in the past. It doesn’t mean you never think about it again. It doesn’t mean whatever is forgiven has no impact on your life. There are still consequences. Forgiveness simply places the situation into God’s hands. It’s the act of saying to God, “I yield this to You and trust You in guiding me how to deal with it. Use it to draw me close to You.” Forgiveness is more about your relationship with God than the worldly justice you crave.
Forgiveness is based in God’s love. In fact, it is so entwined with it, the two can’t be separated. God loves with forgiveness. He forgives with love. And we can do the same as we rely on His love and forgiveness and not our own. The extent to which we forgive, we love. The extent to which we love, we forgive.
These verses emphasize that those who experience greater forgiveness respond with greater love. The reverse is true as well. Love and forgiveness build upon one another, just as so many other characteristics of God do. They don’t exist in isolation, and they seem to exponentially multiply as they are lived out loud in daily life.
That’s how God’s math works. It doesn’t quite add up every time, but it always benefits those who give and receive Him: His love, forgiveness, grace, mercy, redemption, patience, and kindness. He is generous with Himself.
Dear God, please help me to love with forgiveness. You know my struggles. You know how I try to take control of and hold onto things. Let me trust You completely so that I can fully yield in Your love and forgive with Your strength. I seek You with humility.