A man stumbles into an elevator, juggling packages in his arms. One moves beyond his reach and finds its way forced upon an unobservant bystander. Her startled reaction and awkward response fails to catch the package as it falls to the floor. Continuous apologies follow, along with failed attempts to retrieve the package. "Forgive me," he says; "I`m sorry. Pardon me." The elevator doors finally open on the desired floor, and the cumbered man slides the fallen package out of the elevator with his foot. It seems that we all have had to apologize for something, great or small.
Beyond the courteous apologies abounding in daily life and the automatic acceptances they incur, there are those things within the soul that require knowing true forgiveness. They can relate to matters of business, familial ties or our spiritual sanity. Regardless of the social level, having such forgiveness is a great blessing indeed. Knowing, for example, that we have forgiveness from God for our sins through the blood of Jesus Christ [Col. 1:14], is a great blessing of peace and assurance in our relationship to the one true and living God.
However, even in such forgiveness, there are things that reach beyond. They reach into the days that follow forgiveness; and they involve matters of fellowship, faith and favor. I am thankful to know the forgiveness of God through Jesus Christ, but I want to know more than His forgiveness. I want to know his fellowship. I want to know a greater faith, and I want to find favor with God.
Are these things impossible? No. God wants us to fellowship with him. His Word declares, "If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin" [I John 1:7]. "Truly," the Apostle John write, "our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ" [1 John 1:3]. Forgiveness without fellowship is an empty jar, a loaf of stale bread, or an abandoned home. There is no satisfaction. I not only want to know the Lord`s forgiveness; I want to know the Lord.
I also want a greater faith. Trusting the word of one who has granted forgiveness comes in degrees. We can tell friends or family that we know we are forgiven by the one we have offended; but our acts based upon that knowledge demonstrate the degree to which we accept it.
The Lord has forgiveness us through our repentance from dead works and our faith toward God [Hew. 6:1]. He likens that forgiveness to a new birth, the start of a new relationship. But we must grow in the Lord. One evidence of our growth involves forgiveness as a process: Jesus teaches us to pray, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors" [Matthew 6:12]. To accomplish this, we need increased faith.
The Apostle Peter asked this question for the group, "How oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Until seven times?" Whereupon the Lord declared, "Until seventy times seven." The group responded, "Lord, Increase our faith." I do not want to go through life bearing grudges or carrying the loads of resentment. I want a greater faith than that.
Beyond forgiveness from God, I want to find his favor in my life. I want to know that what I do can result in hearing him say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." It can be done. He died on Calvary to reconcile us to God through the body of his death. His desire is to present us to God as holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight. It can be done, through two things: first, if we continue in "the faith, being grounded and settled"; and, second, if we continue in "the hope of the gospel" [Col. 1:23].
As we walk through this life, we can hold on to those things that reach beyond forgiveness and make life worth living.