I was having a conversation with a good friend, the other day, when we began to discuss forgiveness. It reminded me of a time when I read this: “I never understood forgiveness until I had to apologize for something I didn’t do and forgive someone who never asked for it.”
Have you ever heard someone say, "You can't forgive others until you learn to forgive yourself”? Maybe you’ve even said it yourself without thinking it through. Here's what is wrong with that statement: Somehow, “I” got into the equation. How could we take the most selfless of all acts - forgiveness - and actually make our own selves the focal point? Forgiveness is not supposed to be about "me.”
Forgiveness, by its very nature, is an outward act of love. When we ask for forgiveness, we are acknowledging that there is something out there that is bigger and more important than “me” and I am willing to submit to a higher standard where MY self gives way to someone else’s self. For the Christian, that something is God, and that higher standard is His Word.
In Psalms 51, David records his own cry of repentance before God as he pleads for forgiveness:
"...my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge."
David correctly places God at the center of forgiveness. It is God's holy law that has been transgressed and it is God that we have offended.
Forgiveness requires sincere humility, real obedience and a proper understanding of who God is and who we are. It is an act that requires us to humbly set aside our own self, putting Him and His Word above all else as we lay our heart before Him in humility.
"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise."