‘To err is human to forgive is divine.’
This old saying comes from “An Essay on Criticism” by Alexander Pope. It points out that making mistakes and living in error is the realm of human beings. God does not make mistakes and He is our ultimate example of forgiveness. When we forgive, we are displaying more of God’s nature than our flesh.
The saying also has its roots in a couple of biblical truths. Firstly, we are all sinners.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, – Romans 3:23
We all make mistakes, despite our best intentions, because sin is part of our fallen nature.
Thankfully God is forgiving and sent His only son into the world in an act of ultimate love and forgiveness so that we can be free from the grip of sin.
He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. – Colossians 1:13,14.
Our response to this wonderful gift of forgiveness is to extend the same measure of forgiveness to others.
Jesus gave us the pattern for how we should pray in the book of Matthew. He includes within this an emphasise on forgiveness and a link between the forgiveness we receive and the forgiveness we show to others.
And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. – Matthew 6:12
We as sinners, are to pray for forgiveness and in the same way, we must forgive anyone who sins against us. He goes on to say if you don’t forgive others, then you will not be forgiven either.
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. – Matthew 6:14,15.
We must forgive even those who do us harm, annoy us, get under our skin, overlook us, disagree with us, keep us waiting or offend us. Don’t just give this lip service or place unrealistic conditions on your forgiveness, God does not do this with you. Be careful not to hold a grudge because it creates the ground for bitterness to grow, which will overcome and control you. Forgiving others will release you and bring freedom.
Our human trait of making mistakes has been met by God’s heavenly trait of forgiveness. The way God forgives us is wholly and without conditions. We now should do likewise, as we are wholly and completely forgiven by God for our sin toward Him, so we must wholly and completely forgive others who sin against us. Then we may experience the freedom and joy this can bring.