by Harold Lee Wilson II
Many preachers and Christian writers have discussed the topic of forgiveness. They tell us we have to forgive if we are to be forgiven by God (Matthew 6:14). They say that Jesus taught us to both offer and ask for forgiveness, especially in our prayers (Luke 11:4). They even state little idioms passed down through the ages. “To err is human, to forgive divine.”
By now, we get it. Forgiveness is a very important part of the Christian lifestyle. It is an essential factor in us receiving the same from God. It is the gift we obtained when Jesus died on the cross, the newly-instated honor of being a child of God when God’s son paid the ultimate (and eternal) price. So, let’s never stop forgiving.
I know. It seems like it should be simple to be able to forgive someone. It must be immediate and true. We must do so each time we are wronged (Matthew 18:21-22). Forgiveness must come from the place we hold God dear to us, must be done before a situation festers (2 Corinthians 2:7), and must be done regardless of the crime against us.
Yet, this doesn’t truly express forgiveness. Yes, it tells us the fundamentals, but it doesn’t hit on the deep truths behind it. To find out the atoms that make up forgiveness we have to go back to the beginning and look at it from the view of those who needed it most: the people before Jesus came and rescued us from hell.
What does forgiveness mean to you? Many of us see forgiveness as an excusing of wrongs committed against us. Many times in the Old Testament, the Hebrew word salah is used to indicate a release or pardon from the debt that our sins have created before God. Salah is a divine gift, a holy forgiveness that wipes clean the payments due for wrongdoing God, the Father.
As humans, we cannot offer true salah. Our self has become too important and precious to us, even to those of us who are very selfless. Instead, we can only do as Joseph’s brothers do when they present themselves before him:
“This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly. Now please forgive [nasa] the sins of the servant of the God of your fathers.” Genesis 50:17
Nasa is an act of forgiveness, just as salah is, but only God can offer true, lasting pardon for sin. Instead, nasa calls for us “to bear, carry, lift up, and forgive” our debtors. Merely saying, “I forgive you” is no longer enough. We have to go farther in order to offer true forgiveness to others. We must lift them up out of their shame and carry or bear their pains as though they were ours as well (of course, oft times, they are).
Nasa, for those who we feel wronged us, is an opportunity to be forgiven, honored, and carried. Yup, I said “honored.” By offering forgiveness to another, we honor them higher than ourselves (Romans 12:10). We do our best to set aside the feelings of sorrow, pain, hurt (and, at times, hatred), and instead carry them higher than ourselves.
Forgiveness is an act of charizoma (a Greek word meaning to give grace or cancel a debt). It is an act of charity on our part. Is there someone in your life who could use a bit of charizoma from you? Is there someone you need a little nasa from? Pray today that God will help you to both cancel your debts to others and to have the charity to cancel the debts they owe. It’ll be a heavy weight off your shoulders.
May God bless you and keep you always.