However indignant we may be, however intensely and justly we may feel our wrongs, there is no revenge possible for us in the universe of the Father. I may say to myself with heartiest vengeance, “I should just like to let that man see what a wretch he is—what all honest men at this moment think of him!” But, the moment come, the man will loathe himself tenfold more than any other man could, and that moment my heart will bury his sin. Its own ocean of pity will rush from the divine depths of its God-origin to overwhelm it. Let us try to forethink our forgiveness. Dare any man suppose that Jesus would have him hate the traitor through whom he came to the cross? Has he been pleased through all these ages with the manner in which those calling themselves by his name have treated, and are still treating his nation? We have not yet sounded the depths of forgiveness that are and will be required of such as would be his disciples! Our friends will know us then: for their joy, will it be, or their sorrow? Will their hearts sink within them when they look on the real likeness of us? Or will they rejoice to find that we were not so much to be blamed as they thought, in this thing or that which gave them trouble? Let us remember, however, that not only evil will be unveiled; that many a masking misconception will uncover a face radiant with the loveliness of the truth. And whatever disappointments may fall, there is consolation for every true heart in the one sufficing joy—that it stands on the border of the kingdom, about to enter into ever fuller, ever-growing possession of the inheritance of the saints in the light
by Stephen Carney
Most of us can make a good beginning of the calling to forgiveness, but most of us have not reached to its inner depths. As MacDonald writes, “We have not yet sounded the depths of forgiveness that are and will be required of such as would be his disciples!”
Going to deep levels in forgiveness implies that forgiveness is stacked in layers. This means that when I forgive someone, I forgive them at the level or to the degree of my own depth of spirituality. We are only able to forgive someone based on our level of understanding of the thing that needs forgiveness and the circumstances in which we are called to forgive. Let me explain. I might forgive someone for saying things about me that I think are not true. I say, “There, I have forgiven you, just don’t let it happen again.” But then it does happen again, and this time they tell even more people! All of a sudden I feel as though I am being attacked, and the hurt goes deeper.
Therefore, the forgiveness level is deeper.
Soon, I learn the person has a vendetta against me, and is seriously trying to ruin me, and now I begin to see that it is not just the bad actions of a person I need to forgive, but that something deeper is going on within this individual. I realize that I must forgive this person, even though he may never ask for forgiveness, and may never change. I might learn that this individual has been under psychiatric care, or may learn that this is a pattern in their life. Maybe we learn that he is simply evil! Each of these situations take forgiveness to a deeper level.
When Jesus commanded us to forgive seventy times seven times, he was hinting at these deeper levels of forgiveness for each individual. That can sound exhausting, but it needn’t be, as it is all the same forgiving that is just plumbing new depths. Think of forgiveness as you would a submarine; it is the same ship no matter how deep it goes to explore the ocean’s trenches. Our forgiveness is still just forgiving, whether it be a small slight or an act of murder. The only difference is the depths one must go to in order to forgive.
Finally, we must realize that for us to go deeper in our forgiveness of others, we must learn how much we have required forgiveness of others and of God for our own selves. It is easy for us to think our own sins or bad behavior is not as serious as those of others, after all, we know why we did what we did. But that does not excuse a bad behavior, it merely justifies it or minimizes it. We must recognize that we are just as sinful as the person we are upset or angry with and require the same deep level of forgiveness. Our egos often prevent us from seeing our own wrong first, but a good dose of divine truth laid before the eyes of a person seeking to know God can cure this. God reveals himself to us and we then see ourselves in clearer light. When one finds one’s self standing in the presence of God himself there is no response but the one made by the sinner who went up to the temple to pray, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner.” That is the only cure for the arrogance that refuses to forgive our neighbor.