Romans 5:8 “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Paul’s writing cannot be overstated as the most pivotal point in human history. Sin separated us from God. All death, disease, and human conflict was a result of sin. David said that we were shaped and made in sin. The scripture states that “all have sinned and fallen short.” None of us even knew our wretched condition. Nevertheless, Paul wrote, “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” It means that before we were aware of the debt we owed, Jesus was paying the price. What a miracle! What a gift!
Not only did Jesus forgive us on Calvary, but He commanded us to forgive one another. His eternal pattern was set, as Romans 5 so aptly declares. I call it “Preemptive Forgiveness.” The Bible teaches us that unless and until we forgive our brother, our Heavenly Father cannot forgive us. Matthew 6:14-15 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
There is no vagueness in the scripture. It is plain: Forgive and you will be forgiven. Without the same and you will retain your sin. However, there is another measure that is tied to the above text. We must forgive one another even before we are asked: Preemptive Forgiveness. Real Christians forgive at the moment of the offense. Not when they are sought after by the offender. Real Christians immediately recall what Jesus did for them and they measure the offense against them by the pain of the Cross suffered on their behalf.
Preemptive forgiveness is an attitude, not just an action. It is a lifestyle predicated by the work done on Calvary. He suffered and died before we knew Him; before we understood how far we were from God. Offenses will come. Denial, rejection, abuse, misuse, and more are sure to find us in this life. However, Jesus forgave us and restored us and we are to follow suit.
I’m not looking for religious people who tout doctrines, sacrifice, or scriptural insight over Mercy. Jesus said that He desires Mercy more than sacrifice. All those other aspects are good, but they are built upon the foundation of Mercy and Forgiveness. We cannot reject the scripture or take things out of context to justify ourselves. I’m preaching here a little: Just because the Bible does not work in your favor does not mean that you can ignore it. We are here because He forgave us of our sins. We are commissioned to forgive every offense in this life – even preemptively.
Pastor Jeffrey Harpole