I have been burdened a few times with the heaviness of murderous thoughts and they nearly came to fruition, when the only thing that made sense was blackness and death. How do we forgive another who has sinned against us and to what extent? The threshold we possess, which dictates the severity by which we should act is thin, yet He is long-suffering. Our mercy is unmerciful; our justice is unjust, yet He is truly merciful and just – offering the way off of the path of darkness and repaying deed with consequence.
Worldly forgiveness is a bit contradictory, for it involves the burden of the choice, which is guided by the thresholds we possess that determine our responses. When Peter came to Jesus asking how many times he should forgive the brother who sins against him (Matthew 18:21-35, “Up to seven times?”), Jesus responds by saying, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven (some say, “seventy times seven”) times,” which I and many others take as meaning “indefinitely.” I will personally argue that forgiveness does not necessarily require one’s request for forgiveness, but that both one’s quickness to forgive freely, without consideration, and one’s seeking forgiveness through repentance indicates the condition of their heart.
The question that kept popping into my mind during a time in my walk with Christ in which I struggled with forgiving someone very important to me who did wrong was, “Who are you that you deserve anything good?” See, we have committed ourselves to doing wrong to a holy God, but it is more than that, it is sin. We have sinned against a God who is wholly pure and holy. The Prophet Isaiah gave us insight into this when he saw the vision of the Lord seated on His throne and the train of His robes filled the temple, all the while, Seraphs called out, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6). With this, Isaiah cried out, “Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” His sin became transparent in relation to seeing the Holy of Holies and everything inside of Him collapsed to cries. My point is this: we have no real concept of forgiving others until we understand both our own incredible sinfulness and the wonderful forgiveness bestowed upon us by our holy Lord.
Peace and love to you.