Forgiveness and the Nature of God
Last Sunday I was praying the Lord's Prayer as part of our church's worship service. I try to not say it without thinking about it, so I was saying the words and running them through my mind, listening. I got to the "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."
There are those I know who believe this means that God forgives us only as we forgive others. If we are not forgiving, then we will not be forgiven. That has always struck me as a wrong interpretation, but as I prayed it that day, I figured out why.
Being forgiven only as I am willing to forgive is the opposite of grace. Grace says that I am already forgiven. I am forgiven, as are you. God didn't wait to see how forgiving I can be. How forgiving I would be. God forgave me - forgives me - will forgive me - even for my unwillingness to forgive.
It isn't how God wants me to live - God doesn't want me to be unforgiving or unforgiven, but the one part of that equation that God has already dealt with is my state of forgiveness. I am forgiven.
To think that God would allow God's forgiveness to be measured by my actions rather than God's will is contrary to God's nature. God is love. God is grace. God is forgiving, and God's forgiveness will not be dribbled out in a stingy manner based only on my actions.