What is forgiveness anyway?
Forgiveness is releasing someone from the moral debt they owe you.
Since we often do not think in such terms, let us use a financial illustration.
I recently was at a store and discovered I ran out of cash. I asked my friend, Ed, if he could pay for me and then I would pay him back when I got home. I owed Ed $38. I had an obligation to repay him as we agreed. I was in debt to him. There are two ways to legally get rid of this debt.
- I could pay him back his $38. when I returned home.
- The other option was for him to release me from that debt.
Both ways would legally and morally be effective. I chose the former. If I chose the later, I would feel somewhat indebted to him for his generosity. Besides he didn't offer!
How does this work with moral debts? When a person has offended us, they have made a moral debt to us and God. They have acted less than they should have behaved. We do not have power to deal with their debt to God. God has worked that problem through Christ as we have earlier discussed.
But what can we do to someone who morally owes us? In most cases, we cannot perfectly bring about restitution. There is no way they can pay us back. We wish the world was so easy. But when people are hurt, a child molested, violence is done, financial restitution does not relieve the debt. It is a beginning which shows seriousness of understanding their wrong. What can do?
We can simply forgive them. We recognize that we could hold it against them. They do owe you. However, God does not like it when we do not forgive. Many people use an unforgiving spirit to bring a sense of judgment on that person. God however, says that revenge is His prerogative "Revenge is mine," thus says the Lord. Forgiveness is a decision on our part to simply release another person from moral guilt.