How different is the forgiveness of God! In His forgiveness there is no accusation! He looks only for repentance. Where that is true the sinner stands self-condemned. “I am no more worthy to be called thy son,” the prodigal confesses, and immediately the forgiveness of the father overflows, and, without a word of reproach, He takes His erring son to His heart, re-clothes him and re-instates him in the full privileges of home and sonship. With God, forgiveness means a complete forgetfulness of the past- a beginning again on the basis that the offence has never been committed. What passed between the Lord and Simon Peter on the resurrection morning we do not know (Luke 24:34) but we do know that never again was
the matter of his base denial of his Master brought up against him, nor did the knowledge of this flaw in his character influence the Master’s trust in His servant. Who among men would have committed the leadership of his cause to the man who had publicly denied him?
We have no right to claim any degree of likeness to our beloved Master, nor of conformity to His standards, while there is in our hearts any withholding of forgiveness from any who may have wronged us in greater or lesser degree. “Forgive, if ye have ought against any; that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.” Mark 11:25, 26.
How solemn are these words – and how often is this unforgiving spirit the cause of spiritual malingering that eats like canker at the root of spiritual life and growth. How many lives have been spoiled and testimonies blighted because of a root of bitterness allowed to continue unchallenged, Heb 12:15 – in fact, watered rather by self-pity and willful dishonesty of judgment.
It is only as we appreciate the enormity of our own offence and unworthiness before God, and the greatness and magnificence of His forgiveness that we learn to have compassion on our fellow-servant, even as He has had pity on us.