3 times in the last 3 months someone has said these exact words to me:
“They are beyond forgiveness”
3 different people spoke these words about 3 other people in their lives.
People who hurt them.
Abused their trust.
People who were selfish.
As much as I feel for my friends who have been hurt,
there is something in my spirit that cringes at the sound
of these four words strung together in a false justification.
I think it’s the fact that the main reason these four words are spoken
isn’t because forgiveness isn’t possible (after all, with God anything is possible),
but because they don’t think the individual deserves forgiveness.
I’ve heard numerous people say,
“They are beyond forgiveness. They don’t deserve it.”
In all honesty, I understand. I can look back and remember many times when I didn’t think someone deserved my forgiveness.
But as I reminisced about these past hurts and disappointments,
I was reminded of something else in my past
– something much more important.
I was reminded that there are people who don’t deserve forgiveness
…and I am one of those people.
They don’t deserve it.
And neither did I.
In the worst way.
In the darkest way.
In the dirtiest way.
I needed forgiveness.
But I never deserved it, and I could never, ever earn it.
Who are we to decide who can be forgiven on this earth when we have received the biggest pardon of them all?
Who am I to withhold something that has been so freely and
abundantly given to me?
C.S Lewis once said,
“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable
because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”
We have received forgiveness of such an excess that we should be handing it out like free samples at Sam’ Club.
Paul puts our excuses to rest in 1 Timothy 1:15.
“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves
full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world
to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.”
I can appreciate the fact that Paul didn’t just state this truth about Jesus. I believe that he knew how hard the human race would struggle to forgive each other.
He knew what it meant to be hurt and feel unforgiving.
He had been flogged. Beaten. Stoned. Threatened. Persecuted.
But when it came to this topic of forgiveness, even in the worst circumstances, he knew that we might need a little convincing.
He could have stated the fact. But instead he made a point to tell us that his words, based on his experiences, were trustworthy (after all, no one wants to take advice from someone who can’t understand what they are going through). He made a point to tell us that this fact about Jesus deserves our full acceptance.
When I read that passage I don’t see the Greek, I don’t see the words of Paul,
all I see the truth of my condition before a holy God:
“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,
and I am the worst.”
He came to this world to save sinners. This sinner.
He died on a cross to reconcile sinners. This sinner.
He made a way for God to forgive sinners. This sinner.
When I realize the depth and complexity of the forgiveness I’ve been given and continue to be given each day, my only response is to forgive others.
I have more than enough.
So, even if it is hard I’ve learned that I can spare a little.
I can spare
a little a lot.