When was the last time you visited Psalm 51? That’s what David wrote after being convicted by Natan the Prophet of the sins he committed against Uriah and Bat Sheba. Yet David knew who he really sinned against- God, first and foremost; David said that against God, and God alone, did he sin.
That doesn’t mean David didn’t realize the effect of his actions against these people, but God is the one who gave us the commandments and when we violate even the simplest of these laws, regulations and ordinances, we have sinned against God directly. Even if the actions are directed to another person, it is against God that we have sinned.
So, we ask forgiveness of God, and we should ask forgiveness of the person we have sinned against, too. If that person decides to forgive us, that is good for them.
No, I didn’t get that wrong: when someone forgives us it is good for them because God doesn’t tell us to be forgiven by others, He tells us to be forgiving of others. When we forgive we are doing what is right in God’s eyes. No person can forgive someone their sin- only God can do that. Your act of forgiveness is actually between you and God; likewise, the sin itself is between that person and God. Your forgiveness of others helps you, not them. They have to deal with God for forgiveness on their own.
The one who has sinned needs forgiveness from God- the sin is between the sinner and God. God is the ultimate judge, He is the one who will decide if we get to sit under our own fig tree and enjoy our wine, or if we spend eternity out of His presence, in misery and darkness gnashing our teeth.
Forgiveness is a wonderful remedy for the pain of being sinned against. Truth is, the only way to make the pain go away is to forgive the person who caused it. That isn’t easy to do, but it is the only remedy. Maybe that’s why God commands us to be forgiving? He wants us to be happy and, therefore, He tells us to forgive (so that we can be happy.)
Maybe that’s also why God is so willing to forgive us? It makes Him happy, too, and helps Him to remove the pain of being ignored and rejected by the ones He loves so much (He is much better at it than we are. Thank God for that, right?)
Yeshua tells us to “…seek ye first the kingdom of God,…” when He is talking to the crowds during the Sermon on the Mount. Within the context of this speech He has been talking about our relationships with each other, about leaving our gift at the altar to make reparations with those we have sinned against, about forgiving each other as God forgives us, and that’s when He tells us to not seek things of the world but things of God. The world seeks vengeance, God seeks forgiveness and reconciliation.
When it comes to things of God, forgiveness is definitely near the top of the A-List. Forgiveness is a natural result of loving each other and since Yeshua said the two greatest commandments are to love God and love each other, forgiveness (in my book) comes in at a very close third.
Shaul tells us to run the good race. If we are to run the race well, we need to understand and remember that to love God, love each other, and forgive each other is the Win:Place:Show of the most important race we will ever be part of.
We must forgive others and we should ask for forgiveness from those we have sinned against, but always ask forgiveness from God first and foremost because that is the most important forgiveness there is, and the only forgiveness you need.