I remember very clearly one day, as a child, when I had done something quite bad and although my Father did not know that I had done it, I was still afraid, for I knew he would punish me eventually.
Finally I decided what to do! I would go to dad and tell him what I had done he being my father and say sincerely "I am sorry" knowing that he would overlook my error, since I was a child.
Likewise, I find in the book of God an individual, a child of God, in trouble in the gospel of Luke, chapter fifteen. He has lived for himself and erred from his father. He has found himself in the mire of sin and reproach. He too decided what to do, "I will arise and go to my Father and will say unto Him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before Thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son." And too, realizing that he was only a child, sorry for what he had done -the Father ran, fell on his neck and kissed him! (Luke 15:18-21)
This story by Jesus is full of teaching for our learning and admonition. Whether applied to the sinful Jews or Christians today, we find a perfect analogy given by the Savior as to the relationship between God and His children.
Because of His love and tender mercy, God is willing to meet us halfway. He is willing to forgive us, even when we sin terribly in His sight.
But the prodigal son was not the only one to realize he had erred from God. David, after having committed adultery, having a man murdered to do such, also found himself admitting, "I have sinned" (2 Sam. 12:9-14). Saul, after failing completely to destroy the enemy of God exclaimed, "I have sinned" (I Sam. 15:24-31).
But there is something here my friends and brethren that is much deeper than we might think. God in each case was willing, when those individuals were willing to repent, to forgive them. Did the Father in Luke 15:22 question His son's repentance? Did the God of Abraham and of Jacob question David's repentant heart when he was willing to ask forgiveness? Certainly not. We likewise must forgive one another, especially when a child of God is willing to ask forgiveness. (Gal. 6:1-2)
Can I expect God to forgive me, when I do not forgive others? Certainly not! (Eph. 4:32) Can I expect mercy, if I render none myself? NEVER!
Forgiveness then, is certainly an absolute necessity in pure and true Christianity. Certainly God will not forgive people who are self willed and not willing to repent; but how well the scriptures teach that He did forgive when people were willing to ask forgiveness. He did so in each case.
Now, we see something, perhaps not often noticed in the story of repentance and forgiveness, as told by Christ. It did not matter what the erring son had done - nor did He ask him. The only concern the Father had was: "This thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found." When an erring brother finds himself, we then must receive him. "If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him, and if he repent, forgive him" (Luke 17: 3).
I certainly put the salvation of my soul in jeopardy when I fail to forgive one who repents. So does anyone else!
TRUTH MAGAZINE XIV; 31, p. 2
June 11, 1970