Psalm 32:1 – Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
Have you ever wondered at the miracle of forgiveness? On the one hand, only God can truly forgive sins. However, Jesus Christ instructed His followers to forgive others. How can this be? Are these contradictory commandments?
As with many Biblical truths, this one is multifaceted. Because truth and judgment are ultimately God’s domain, He has the exclusive right to forgive or prosecute sin against His commandments. This is why many were upset that Jesus forgave the sins of the indigent and those considered unclean and unfit. As the direct representative of God the Father, Jesus has authority to forgive and His sacrifice enabled the means of divine reconciliation. No one but God can cancel sin.
On the other hand, sins, transgressions and violations againsts ourselves and our families can be forgiven at the level of the debt imposed by the action. For example, if a woman were found in adultery, Jesus instructed that the best course is forgiveness and restoration of the marriage relationship. Only the hardness of our hearts makes this impossible. Either the unrepentant sinner refuses to change or the one violated cannot bring themselves to forgive.
Our judgment is limited to our perception and understanding of available information. When you combine this fact with the reality that we have all fallen short of flawless obedience to God, we have no right to condemn others for sins we could easily have committed. If we would admit this to ourselves, I believe we would see the wisdom in Jesus’ direction to us to forgive others. Love covers a multitude of sins. While judgment is right and appropriate when required, forgiveness is the first option. Forgive often and judge only when needed. “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).