I see children almost daily who need to say they are sorry for their transgressions, but it is usually the kind of little things that need to be let go. I’ve taught them that when someone is mean to them, you can show them kindness as a way to get over what happened, especially if they already got their consequence. These are two levels of what we call “Forgiveness.”
Level 1, is for the little stuff, just “let it go!” “It’s okay.” is another way of saying this.
Level 2, is for the stuff that people do against you and get the consequences for: instead of rubbing it in their faces, you show them the kindness of your face that says, “I still wanna be your friend.” “I forgive you.” is a good way of saying this. This forgiveness is quite powerful at restoring relationships.
Level 3 is hard. Level 3 is the forgiveness we extend to people who we can’t let it go what they did, and we also haven’t seen them get their consequences yet. It’s also the level that is meant for the one who is not sorry or has not voiced it. Level 3 forgiveness is costly, and also very difficult.
An example of this forgiveness can hopefully be seen in this example about two boys: One summer, A boy was riding on his bicycle down a wooded path, and he took a turn toward a crowd of kids. All the kids got out of the way except one, who stood his ground. The biking kid swerved to miss him and hit a tree. The bike was seriously damaged, but the kid riding it was unhurt. Nevertheless, he was furious. He picked up his bike over to the kid who had stood in his way and threw it on top of the kid, knocking him to the ground. The other kids called out, “Fight, fight! and made a circle. The riding kid stood waiting for the kid to get back up and fight. But the kid under the bike looked back at him and looked around at the other boys calling for blood. The boy got up with the bike the wheel was bent so that it could not rotate. He looked at the bike and he looked at the boy who owned it. With a sigh, he started dragging the bike toward the circle of surrounding kids. But when he got to them, he picked up the bike and carried it on his shoulder with one wheel in front and one wheel in back. The boys said, “Where are you going?”
– – “I’m going to get it fixed,” he said. The crowd of kids parted and stared at him. “Is that his bike?” one kid asked. “No.” said another kid. The boy who owned the bike was confused. He wondered if he was ever going to get that bike back. Or if he would get in trouble for almost hitting the boy, or throwing the bike at him.
– – A week later there was a knock at the door of the kid who owned the bike, and when he opened the door, there on the porch was his now-fixed bike. It looked brand new!
This story isn’t true that I know of, but I hope it shows the point I’m trying to get across. The third level of forgiveness was shown by the kid who stood his ground, who picked up the boy’s bike, carried it, and gave it back to him fixed. The key idea in this level of forgiveness is the word carry. It is when a person who is wronged doesn’t take vengeance for himself, but accepts the wrong being done, and himself or herself carries the problem of the one who wronged him because he loves the one who wronged.
Level 3 forgiveness can be found in the Hebrew Word, Nassa. It means “to forgive,” or “to carry” or “to lift” depending on the context. This deep level of forgiveness that carries the wrong of the one who commits the wrong, is a character quality that God uses to describe himself in the Old Testament. ”
Exodus 34:6-7–“Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.”
Yahweh is the God who is not only the just judge who will not leave the guilty unpunished, but he is also the one bearing with, and taking on himself the sins of those people who have wronged him, until the day when their judgment comes. The clearest picture of this I can see, is Jesus carrying the cross, and in that cross the sin of the whole world, so that the sin of all who believe and repent might be forgiven.
Jesus said, “If anyone seeks to come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” I see a God who has shown us the way to forgive, by himself doing it. He bore with those who sin, both knowing that one day there will be a judgment on them if they don’t repent and desiring them to repent so they do not come into judgment. This is Forgiveness level 3. And it is the most beautiful picture of love.
This may seem impossible, especially if you yourself have been in this position of being wronged and remain so unjustly, but the Holy Spirit empowers the one who obey’s Jesus’ command. This is how to do it.
- Pray for them. “Pray for those who mistreat you.” Jesus said. This is the secret way God gives supernatural insight into the heart of the one who wronged you. Jesus showed us this, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” ~Mark 15
- Trust God’s justice and timing. “Though he reviled, did not revile in return but entrusted him to the God who judges righteously.”
- Work for their benefit. “If your enemy is hungry feed him, and if he is thirsty give him a drink, for in doing so, you will heap burning coals upon his head, and God will reward you.” ~Hebrews 12.
Final thought, remember, “If you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:15