– Charles Stanley
Devotional: 5 Ways God’s Forgiveness is Different from Human Forgiveness
Charles Stanley’s quote is very instructive regarding God’s nature. Let’s face it. We live in a day and age where some people may misunderstand God’s character. There are just so many opinions. There are just so many media images of who God is supposed to be and how he should act and what his qualities are.
But the Bible is clear that God is different from human beings. Take forgiveness, for example. God’s forgiveness is completely different from how human beings forgive and choose to reconcile.
Here are five ways God’s forgiveness is different from human forgiveness.
It is always available
Human forgiveness requires timing, certain choreography, and it requires the right mood. Let’s face it. You’re not always in a forgiving mood. You’re not always ready to forgive, especially when the offense just happened.
Not so with God. God’s forgiveness is always available. He is ready to forgive us when we come to him with a repentant heart.
God forgives freely
Not only is God’s forgiveness always available, he is also able to forgive freely. This is different from availability because the opportunity to forgive might be there, but the willingness might not be there with people. With God, the opportunity and ability are always there.
God is always giving opportunities to repent
The most important thing to God is your salvation. If you need evidence to support that claim, you only need to look at John 3:16. He loves you so much that he basically gave everything he had in the form of his son just so you can have a means to be reconnected to him by believing in Jesus Christ.
This is why it follows that God is always giving us opportunities to repent. If he was a vindictive God, he would have struck us down because we continuously fall short of his glory. But no, he continues to let us live every single day, every single moment, and each moment is an opportunity for us to repent.
God forgets freely
Forgiveness without forgetting is not real forgiveness. The old saying “Forgive but not forget,” that’s not real forgiveness. Forgiveness has to involve forgetting. Not any forgetting that include grudging, not any scheduled forgetting; but forgetting freely. God does this.
If you need proof, just one example of God’s ability to forget freely was when he described David as his perfect servant. Keep in mind that David committed adultery and caused the death of the woman he committed adultery with. But after David repented, God described him as his perfect servant, a man after his own heart. That’s how quickly and freely God forgets.
Human beings can forgive. The challenge is that we don’t want to be hurt again so we forgive but we don’t forget. That’s not divine forgiveness.
God restores us after he forgives us
Remember the prodigal son when he came back to the father and was dressed in rags and looking completely disheveled? He asked for the father’s forgiveness but before he was even finished saying what he had to say, the father called the servants to bring a robe and ring for his son.
These were symbolic actions. Bringing the robe means bringing God’s righteousness. He restored the son to the son’s proper place. The ring is a marker of value.
When God forgives us, he doesn’t just cleanse us of our sins, he also restores us. Thank God, he doesn’t forgive like human beings because we may forgive and we may forget, but the relationship has already been strained and cannot be fully restored. Not so with God.