Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. [Ephesians 4:31-32 (NLT)]
Several years ago, a neighbor’s husband quietly arranged for a week’s vacation from work, a wife arranged for a week off from her job, and they joined one another on a romantic getaway. Unfortunately, they weren’t married to one another and their respective spouses were blindsided by their heartless betrayal. Less than a week later, they returned home; apparently, the forbidden fruit wasn’t near as tasty as they’d expected. I don’t know what happened to the woman’s marriage but, amazingly, the deceived wife quietly allowed her repentant husband home and their marriage survived. “How could she forgive him?” asked a shocked (and gossipy) neighbor. “There’s just no excuse for his shameful behavior.” But isn’t that the point? If it could be excused, if extenuating circumstances justified it, if there was a valid explanation for it, there would be no need for forgiveness! Forgiveness is what God does and we should do when there is no excuse for the offense, no defense for the behavior, and no exception to the rule that was broken.
There was no excuse for that adulterous couple’s behavior but one woman, who chose love over hate, hope over despair, and mercy over retaliation, quietly forgave her repentant husband. There was no excuse for Gomer’s betrayal of Hosea and yet the loving prophet redeemed her from slavery, forgave her, and welcomed her back into their home. There was no excuse for the first sin and yet God loved us enough to redeem mankind with the blood of his Son, Jesus Christ. There is no excuse for the sins we continue to commit and yet, when we confess with repentant hearts, we are forgiven. It is precisely when there is no possible excuse that forgiveness is necessary. Let us never forget—as God forgives us so we are to forgive others, even when there is no excuse!