I don’t always want to forgive someone who has sinned against me, at least not immediately. I know the verses about God forgiving us as we forgive others (Matthew 6:14-15). I know the parable about how my offenses against God are far greater than any offense against me (Matthew 18:23-35) and that, if He forgives me, then I certainly should forgive a lesser offender. I know a lot of biblical truths about forgiveness and yet that doesn’t always translate into my obedient, ready response of forgiveness.
I may not have sinned first (this time), but I may very well sin second. His sin invites my sin to the sin party and I respond angrily or unkindly or impatiently. Then the Holy Spirit convicts the other person, he desires reconciliation, and confesses his sin. But by now I have my own sin that makes me want to hold off forgiving him while I huff around the resentment track a few more laps.
As bad as that is, I mention it mostly to make a contrast. God never wants to say, “No, not yet.” When we confess our offense to Him–offense that can’t be completely calculated since we can’t calculate His infinite righteousness–He never needs a minute to get His own heart right. He never needs to calm down or collect Himself before responding. He isn’t hassled or peeved by our confessing sin again. He doesn’t postpone forgiveness in order to prove a point.
Our Lord abounds in mercy and steadfast love (Psalm 51:1). He patiently and gladly hears us. He forgives us because He is faithful and righteous (1 John 1:9). He does it because He is who He is, because of what Christ has done, and because His name will be honored. He never sins in response to our sin, let alone our confession of sin, and that’s good news for us sinners.