So far in thinking about forgiveness, we’ve seen both what it is – a cost or burden we determine to bear – and also how that burden must be borne if it is to be full and true forgiveness, that it must be borne with no indication that it is a burden at all.
Everything we’ve said so far is true of forgiveness in general, and would be true even if there were no God, or if Jesus had not revealed to us the nature of God and the workings of God’s dominion.
In the world considered in itself, the existence of forgiveness is desirable mainly for what we might regard as social lubrication. As a human possibility, it lessens the destructive impact of feuds and grudges and hopeless obligations, offering a non-violent form of resolving conflict and a vehicle for magnanimity, itself often a useful social characteristic. It may even have an emotional benefit for those exercising it, by stimulating and nurturing qualities of kindness and generosity, themselves healthy to the individual and valuable to the social setting. A society in which forgiveness is practiced is almost certainly an improvement over one where it is not, if in nothing else, then at least in stress level!
But because we live in a world God created, in which everything that exists has its true reality in its relationship with God, forgiveness is much, much more.
As we shall see.