C. S. Lewis, one of my favorite authors, wrote a copious amount of essays on the Christian life. One, I think, needs to be read by any believer every so often. It is on forgiveness. You see, I don’t “do” forgiveness well. This probably sounds like a complete “Un-Christian” thing to say, yet I fully mean it.
But the trouble is that what we call “asking God’s forgiveness” very often really consists in asking God to accept our excuses. What leads us into this mistake is the fact that there usually is some amount of excuse, some “extenuating circumstances.” We are so very anxious to point these things out to God (and to ourselves) that we are apt to forget the very important thing; that is, the bit left over, the bit which excuses don’t cover, the bit which is inexcusable but not, thank God, unforgivable. And if we forget this, we shall go away imagining that we have repented and been forgiven when all that has really happened is that we have satisfied ourselves without own excuses. They may be very bad excuses; we are all too easily satisfied about ourselves.
So, forgiveness is harder for us to ask for and give than we think. We very flippantly, as a natural reaction, proclaim forgiveness over someone without thinking what we offer, or when we receive forgiveness. (I hate this thing) we say, like any good Christian should, “You know, I have forgiven them in my heart already.” Ehhhh, you sure there shooter? It is a cop-out, most of the time, because we the next minute flip out on the hearer about what the person did. The reality of forgiveness is that forgiveness takes account on how much it is being forgiven. Forgiveness is hard, but God counted the cost and forgave us of much more than we know.
So, here’s the thought, anytime we come before God, let us just bring ourselves dirty and messed up—no excuses and long winded prayers. God knows, and he is not shocked. He has healed us in Jesus Christ, and He will heal us because of His Son, when we bring ourselves before Him. He is faithful.