How to Forgive on Heaven’s Terms

Forgiveness involves patience and compassion for the offender.  This type of forgiveness is really only found in heaven. It’s the fabric that weaves life into the person who is unjust and unworthy of this material.  Patience waits for the changes to happen in the offender’s life. Compassion sees beyond the offense and provides a pathway of hope in the life of the wrongdoer. This type of forgiveness is unique in that it only deals with the issue at hand. It doesn’t pick up other issues and heap more offenses on top of the original. This takes great discipline and focus. Heaven’s terms of forgiveness are not of this earth. As followers of Jesus, we are to live out the prayer “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6: 10). We must choose to bring heaven’s forgiveness to earth. It won’t happen by chance, only by choice.

While forgiveness does have its imitation on earth, it falls short from the Master’s. While it can have the appearance of compassion and patience, it is rooted in debt and punishment; payback is the fallback. Sadly earth’s fabric of forgiveness is woven with a cost for the mercy shown. It’s short lived when the next offense surfaces.  In its short life span new offenses are heaped on the old issue. One can never truly escape the original. They only pay for the one offense with a higher measure of more offenses. This counterfeit forgiveness is an insult to the fabric of heaven. It slaps at Jesus’ very nature, character and even His plan for our life.

His way is the better way. Peter writes, “Jesus did not retaliate when He was insulted, nor threaten revenge when He suffered. He left His case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.” (2 Peter 2:23 NLT)

Sometimes we will meet an person who doesn’t deserve our forgiveness and they indeed deserve a consequence. It is in times like these that we have such a hard time showing mercy. Our minds can go wild in cases like this. We can conjure up justification for retaliation and we can even make more of the issue by adding more crimes to the misdemeanor. We cross over to a limited forgiveness that places restrictions on our mercy.

But if we are truly following Jesus we must give notice to what 2 Peter 2:23 said about heaven’s way of forgiveness. Jesus did not retaliate, nor threaten revenge. Instead He chose to entrust Himself to the hands of God not the hands of man.

He trusted in the fabric of heaven’s way to judge fairly.

Jesus was also more concerned about the people He was dying for rather than their transgressions. His mercy was evidence by keeping the issue at hand the issue. His mission was the issue. His mission was to pay the price for the unjust and unworthy so that they could be made just and worthy of salvation. His sacrifice was the greatest of forgiveness, because He chose to die to what seemed fitting, and live for what will bring ultimate justice to a person’s life. We forget that true freedom found in forgiveness is the ultimate justice!

Jesus was a solutions man. His justice involved developing a hope for the unjust, wicked and unworthy. He desired to not only forgive their debts but offer them a new life to live so that offenses were not their everyday experience. Heaven’s forgiveness softens an individual. It can make a heart pliable consequently, easier to develop. Heaven’s terms of forgiveness gives the potential to the offender to become a new person and practice a new way to exist.

Jesus did say, “I’ve come to make all things new.” And this new involved forgiveness that instituted change in person’s heart and eternity. On the other hand, earth’s forgiveness only keeps a person unchanged not just unforgiven. It holds them captive to their offenses, barred forever in their state of felony. There is no hope in this! As followers of Christ we are called to be bearers of hope not of despair.

When we forgive, what fabric do we choose to weave in a person’s life? As you can see, the outcome will make a difference in the offender. Do you really want change in the relationship or just payment? Are you developing the person who is in the wrong by Heaven’s standard of forgiveness or are you enslaving them forever to their current way of life?  Heaven’s terms of forgiveness are not easy to follow, but if we are submitting ourselves to the One who judges fairly, we could see heaven’s miracles lived out in our life.

Ask yourself a few questions:

  1. Why is forgiveness so hard for you right now?
  2. In what ways has this post explained the reason it’s hard for you?
  3. In what ways can Jesus’s example in 1 Peter 2:23 help you?
  4. What’s your next step for today?

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