Note again that we are not kind like Him – far from it. Even if we might be able to imagine ourselves as those who did heinous and evil deeds condemned by all (see part I), it may still be difficult for us to see how bad we actually are – that we don’t need to imagine being evil! That said, we can all be led to see – by logical deductions made from the Golden Rule – that we should be willing to be more kind than we are. And we are not – for man does not want to give to others that which we, in our hearts, know we ourselves need. If we do venture to talk about forgiving our neighbors – even those we should love the most – we do it from a selfish perspective: I did it for my sake; it helped me. It is all about us making the subtitle of “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus our God” our god, that is, “how to get what you want out of relationships”. No, there is no virtue whatsoever in realizing the truth that unforgiveness and a thirst for revenge will destroy us.
No, if we think that we deserve some credit for coming to this realization that is fully and completely damnable. There is nothing noble in such self-interest devoid of real concern for one’s neighbor (note I am not saying all self-interest is bad, just incomplete). Just like the end of Romans 1 says, in our heart of hearts, we reveal ourselves to be persons “without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful” (Romans 1:31, NASB). If we do genuinely want to show mercy and bring comfort to persons besides ourselves, it is only to those who continue to please us. And even if God would have us escape this damnable state, it’s one that men, without His help, aim to live in. Those without Christ are incapable of grasping the “weightier matters of the law” – true mercy, justice and faithfulness (Matt 23). Even if by His grace He would help us to see and live the wisdom of the Golden Rule in a more fulsome sense, without the clear word that Christ is our Life – who indeed forgives all our sins – we all are destined even to be prideful of this knowledge and life we “possess”. To take at least some very real credit for our goodness. At the very least, we are proud of being humble. Or we are proud of realizing we are proud of being humble, etc. etc. At bottom, we know ourselves to be good persons with good hearts. There are perhaps some truly bad persons, but we are not among them.
Is it not clear that man perpetually underestimates the depth and seriousness the sin within him that leads to all manner of actual sins? No one deserves mercy, but if we could speak that way surely God – who does not need the Golden Rule – would be more than just in withholding it from us. Is it not clear that a “Great Divorce” on His part would actually be just!? In spite of the fact that this thought does not seem to occur for many modern persons claiming Christ?
We sophisticated modern persons often seem to think we are more loving and forgiving than God himself! Before any accuse Him of not following His own Golden Rule here, let us realize that He does not need our mercy and forgiveness. No, He is the creator of and enforcer of the Golden Rule.
Even if we were to never hear of Jesus Christ and His mercy that restores, all of us can still be shown that we deserve damnation. This should be clear from what has already been said above. No, if there is any love in the world it is from God, and apart from God’s continually influencing and completely turning human being’s hardened hearts, they shamefully reject the tender mercies which restore both life and eternal life through and through. In short, if in our heart of hearts we believe that seventy-times-seven forgiveness should be for us but not for our neighbor – whether explicitly or implicitly or tacitly (if we care to make all these distinctions!) – we are really saying that it is not for us at all. In spite of the fact that we are all one in Adam, we deny that we are our brother’s keeper.
In the realm in which we live, we must not avoid – and cannot avoid – making judgments about what is right and wrong. That said, only sinless ones are entitled to cast the first stone – that judgment that seals the final cutoff and great divorce, or eternal separation.
But look what even the only Sinless One does instead! He is merciful. He takes the harsh blows meant for us! Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!
I hope you can join with me in saying to this Lamb: “Lord have mercy! Hosannah! (that is “save now”)”