For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV)
When it comes to forgiveness, we're tough negotiators. We open with an offer like, "I'll forgive you, if . . . ." Then, we follow with a subtle concession that sounds like a confession: "I can't forgive her until she learns her lesson."
When we think the other side is stonewalling, we take off the gloves: "If I forgive him, he'll just think he got away with it."
We think we're negotiating for God; we think we're negotiating for their souls; we think we're negotiation for justice, when all we're really doing is negotiating for control over the situation.
Truth says we can't conduct these negotiations. We're ambassadors of the King, and we represent, not our own, but the King's intentions as well as his character. The King says forgive and that means we forgive. See the period at the end of the previous sentence? We forgive.
The King's instructions are clear and unambiguous: If you forgive those who sin against you, then the King will forgive you for your sins against him. If you don't forgive those who sin against you, then the King won't forgive you for your sins against him. No room for negotiation there.
Anything else, such as saying, ""I'll forgive him, if . . ." isn't really forgiving; it's just negotiating, and God's court of justice will not recognize contracts made without kingly authority or permission.
The question is not should, if, or can someone be forgiven; the true question is will you make the choice to forgive?
This devotional is excerpted from Growing with Purpose, available at Saddleback resources. Copyright 2010 by Jon Walker. Used by permission.