The third basis for forgiveness
Why should we forgive?
- One: because we understand how much we have been forgiven
- Two: because we see ourselves as just as sinful, or more, as the one who has hurt us
- Three: because we trust God’s justice
The last reason comes from passages like Romans 12:19: “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.”
When we forgive, we are turning the offense and the offender over to God for him to deal with it, rather than taking matters into our own hands. In the words of Miroslav Volf, “When one knows that the torturer will not eternally triumph over the victim, one is free to rediscover that person’s humanity and imitate God’s love for him.”
This is hard enough to do in ordinary life. Volf, however, doesn’t write only from the perspective of the ordinary. He writes in light of genocide and other atrocities. How does one move toward forgiveness of evils like this? It’s only possible as one trusts God to bring about justice.
Tomorrow: the ways in which forgiveness seems to be conditional.