Forgiveness, by CCM artist Matthew West, is from the 2012 album entitled Into The Light. The song was written by Mr. West after he heard an incredible story about a woman who lost one of her four children, a twin daughter, to a drunk driving accident.
As the attached video explains, the man who had caused the crash, that had killed both this young girl and her friend, was sentenced to twenty-two years in prison. But according to Renae, the mother of the deceased child, it was she that felt like a prisoner.
You see, bitterness and hatred had been building up inside of her soul, and she felt miserable and entrapped. It wasn’t until she felt compelled to reach out to this young man — while he was still in prison — and tell him she had forgiven him, that she began to feel released from her anger and her hate. In fact, she actually worked to see this young man’s sentence reduced to eleven years, and she has accepted this young man into her family, as one of her own.
George MacDonald, a nineteenth century Scottish author, poet, and minister, was quoted as having said this about forgiving:
“Forgiveness is the giving, and so the receiving, of life.”
Mr. West indicates that writing this song was very hard, because forgiving someone who has wronged you is extremely difficult. So the chorus became a prayer to God, saying, “Show me how . . .” Humanity must be shown how to forgive, we cannot do so on our own because it goes against our sinful nature. It’s God who knows how to truly forgive.
Recall with me Alexander Pope’s infamous quote from his poem entitled An Essay on Criticism. The quote reads as follows, “To err is human; to forgive, divine.” Mankind’s bent is towards wrongdoing (Psalm 51:5; Matthew 15:19; Romans 3:23), but God’s bent is towards faithfulness, gentleness, goodness, joy, kindness, love, patience, peace, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). All of these spiritual fruits, as they are referred to by the Apostle Paul, culminate into another divine fruit known as forgiveness. Look quickly with me at some biblical examples:
– Genesis 3 — Adam and Eve choose to believe the lies of Satan, disguised as a serpent, instead of the truths of their Creator. God knows that humanity has chosen sin over righteousness, and seeks out the man and the woman. Adam and Eve are found by God to be hiding and scared. They are no longer clothed in His glory, but are naked and covered in leaves and vines. God gives them both a verbal scolding. Exclaiming to them the consequences of bringing wrongdoing into the world, but then shows compassion and forgiveness by killing an animal, skinning that animal, and preparing proper clothing to cover the man and woman’s nakedness. In doing this, God established the first example that rings true throughout the Bible, “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22), and without forgiveness there is no life (Romans 6:23).
– Genesis 6-8 — The world had become over run by evil. God was sorry that He had ever created humanity, and was poised to destroy all that He had made; ready to demolish all that He had once looked upon as “good.” (Genesis 1:10b) But one man, named Noah, found favor in God’s sight. God chose to spare Noah, and his family, and in doing so also chose to spare a portion of His lower creations; those considered a part of the animal kingdom. So an ark was built to house Noah, his family, and all the creatures God selected. The rains came, and the flood waters rose, and humanity’s sins were judged. Yet, God’s tender mercies were placed upon Noah, and all that were housed in the ark. When the waters recessed, and the ark was again set upon dry ground, Noah built an alter and sacrificed animal flesh to honor God’s loving kindness and forgiveness. Again, without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness, and without forgiveness there is no life.
– Genesis 22 — God has chosen a specific man to make a covenant with. This covenant would be the foundation by which God would reestablish His lost relationship with mankind. The man’s name was Abraham, and the principle of the covenant would be established through the testing of Abraham’s faithfulness. You see, God had promised to make Abraham the beginning of a “great nation” (Genesis 12:2-3), but Abraham’s wife was barren and could not have children. Nevertheless, God continued to stand by His promise and grow Abraham in his faith. It wasn’t until Abraham was about one-hundred years old, and that Sarah was about ninety years old, that God fulfilled the promise of a child. But a short twenty years later, God asks Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, back to Him. Abraham, now nearing the end of his days, doesn’t question God. He gathers up what is needed for the sacrifice, including his one and only son, and heads out to the holy mountain of God. Isaac, old enough now to know what is expected at a sacrifice, begins to question his father about what they are going to sacrifice. After all, he sees no animal. Abraham stays focused and simply responds with, “God, Himself, will provide.” (Genesis 22:8) Abraham arrives, prepares the alter, binds up his son, and places Isaac on the alter. As Abraham raises his knife to return Isaac to God, he is stopped. God praises Abraham for his faithfulness, and provides a ram for them to complete their act of worship. Once more, God intercedes for humanity, and provides a sacrifice that would represent an even greater oblation. For by this special offering, yet to come, all of humanity would be forgiven, and allowed to experience abundant life.
You see, often this theme appears throughout the Old Testament, until it is ultimately played out in the New Testament through the sacrifice that God, Himself, makes. The supreme sacrifice, hinted at in Genesis chapter twenty-two, that would cover all sins that mankind had committed throughout history, during the period it took place, and since. That offering, of course, was God’s only begotten son — Jesus Christ. God’s son willingly became sin, though He had never sinned, so that through His death humanity could be forgiven (Isaiah 53:5; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Forgiveness truly is divine, and it is strong enough to cover over all our wrongdoings. All we need do is accept it (1 John 1:9), and then give it to others (Mark 11:25).
So, as we close out this article on forgiveness, ask yourself these questions that Matthew West posed in his video clip:
– Is there someone I need to forgive?
– Is there someone I need to ask for forgiveness from?
– Can I forgive myself for what I have done?
– Have I really embraced God’s forgiveness?
God has proven that He is ready, willing, and able to forgive us. All we must do is accept God’s forgiveness, and forgive others, then be ready to embrace life — abundant life!
“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Romans 5:8-11)
Living Your True Purpose by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at jasonmin.wordpress.com.
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Forgiveness lyrics and music written by Matthew West. Copyright © 2012 Sparrow Records.
Video made available by Jason Ministries and Sparrow Records; Copyright © 2013 All Rights Reserved.
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