... Forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Colossians 3:13b
Heinrich Heine was a famous German poet. He may even have been a good German poet.
I don't know about that, but I do know he was speaking for a fair percentage of sinful humanity when he wrote about forgiveness ... a concept he found to be both unnatural and impossible.
You may be shocked at what he said.
He penned, "My nature is the most peaceful in the world. All I ask for is a simple cottage, a decent bed, good food, some flowers in front of my window, and a few trees beside my door. ... Then, to be truly happy, I would like to see six or seven of my enemies hanging from those trees. I would forgive them all the wrongs they have done -- forgive them from the bottom of my heart, for we must forgive our enemies. But not until they are hanged!"
Heine was perfectly willing to forgive everybody, as long as they had paid the full and complete penalty for their sins against him. For him, for many, forgiveness doesn't come naturally.
This is why the forgiveness we have received from Jesus is all the more special.
Jesus didn't wait for us to have a change of heart before He came into this world. He didn't wait for us to repent before He was born in Bethlehem. He didn't come to seek and save only those who applauded or appreciated what He was doing for them.
Jesus came for sinners.
He came for the fellows who lied about Him, for the fellows who turned their backs on Him, for the people who called for the release of a murderer, who called for His crucifixion. Jesus died to save the fellows who pounded the nails and those who laughed at His suffering.
Jesus came for sinners -- like the ones who live at my address ... and yours.
For us all Jesus came and now having completed the work of our redemption, He only asks we believe on Him and, as our faith motivates, live our days in thanksgiving for a grace which was unexpected and His forgiveness which was undeserved.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, today I give thanks that, in order to act, You did not make demands of me I could never fulfill. Instead, You asked Your Son to live His life for my benefit, my redemption, and my forgiveness. For His sacrifice and Your grace I praise Your Name in words and in action. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries