By Ed Croteau
Proverbs 17:9 "He who covers a transgression seeks love"
If I could ask you what is the most difficult thing you have to do, or have done, in relationships with others, youíd probably say forgiving someone who has seriously wronged you, or asking forgiveness from someone you have wronged. But our warped understanding of what it means to either ask for, or offer, is one of the misconceptions we bring with us when we examine the God of the Bible.
Hereís a test for you, to examine your understanding of Godís forgiveness. Letís say Iím talking in a group of people and youíre in the group. During my talk, without thinking, I blurt out something you had shared with me that is very personal and which I had promised to you that that I would keep private between us. It is very embarrassing and humiliating for you, as now everyone knows.
Now, here are two different scenarios on how I deal with my offense toward you. In scenario 1, I come up to you after the talk is over and everyone has left, and say, ĎHey, I am so sorry. Hope you didnít mind. It was an honest mistake. Would you please forgive me?"
In scenario 2, while I am talking to everyone and have just started sharing the embarrassing story about you, I realize what I have done. In midstream I stop, turn directly to you with my eyes watering up because I know I have hurt you and broken my promise. In front of everyone, I ask you to please forgive me for being such an untrustworthy friend, and I ask you to please forgive me.
In which of these two scenarios are you most likely to forgive me? And in which of these two scenarios would God be most willing to offer forgiveness to you and me? Chances are you chose scenario 2. We all want the person who hurt us to show remorse, to act in humility and sorrow, and come almost groveling to us. Then we feel theyíve shown the necessary actions to deserve our forgiveness.
Neither of these scenarios is a picture of Godís forgiveness. You see, Godís forgives is a gift that was made available from eternity. Itís not something we earn by meeting some standard of right action, which then prompts Him to forgive me. In the above scenario 2, thatís what we all want from the one offending us. With God, His forgiveness through the Cross of Jesus Christ is a GIFT that He provided before the world even began, because His love is so complete towards us that He knew He must act on our behalf to deal with our offenses. Thatís what Proverbs 17:9 means Ė He has demonstrated that He is the one seeking your love for Him by providing the covering for your sin in the Cross.
But, doesnít the Bible say we must come to God in humility and repentance, a Godly sorrow for my sins toward Him? This is the awesome part of the Good News: our sorrow over our sin comes when we understand the Cross and why He died for me. It is my response to His love, not my obligation to please Him. I canít please Him on my own. I have nothing to offer Him to compensate for my sin. I respond to His offer and His accomplishment for me on the Cross Ė it drives me to my knees when it dawns in my heart: He is the one drawing me, in spite of me, to HimselfÖ. because He loves me deeply. I fall in love with Him.
Ed Croteau is a resident of Leeís Summit and hosts a weekly study in Lees Summit called "Faith: Substance and Evidence." He can be reached with your questions through the Leeís Summit Tribune at Editor@lstribune.net.