If You, O LORD, kept track of iniquities, then who, O Lord, could stand? But with You there is forgiveness, so that You may be feared.Psalm 130:3-4
The deities of the ancient nations exhibited power through their strength and ruthlessness. They were cruel gods with weaknesses and foibles rivalling those of the most degenerate of human behavior. Yet Yahweh stands out among the ancient gods for his characteristic forgiveness.
You are my God; save Your servant who trusts in You. Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I call to You all day long. Bring joy to Your servant, for to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. For You, O Lord, are kind and forgiving, rich in loving devotion to all who call on You.Psalm 86:2-5
The Psalmist writes, “But with You there is forgiveness, so that You may be feared.” The quality of God that most causes people to revere him is the fact that he is willing to forgive those who sincerely admit their failings.
Let the wicked man forsake his own way and the unrighteous man his own thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that He may have compassion, and to our God, for He will freely pardon.Isaiah 55:7
Considered in this light, this explains how God’s kingdom can expand to the entirety of earth. This is not a kingdom that is to be established by force or by might, but by love and forgiveness. Force and might may hold sway for temporary times and in limited areas, but it always gives way to the next sweep of power and might.
Forgiveness operates from a different base than forced subjection; it is a subtler but stronger might that captures the heart, and in so doing causes willing obedience and respect. It is not as visible and decisive as forced compliance, yet it spreads farther, reaches deeper, and lasts longer than any armed campaign could accomplish.
If our God is a God of forgiveness, and if we consider ourselves to be his children through faith, then should we not mimic the characteristic that would most demonstrate our likeness with our Father and bring honor to his name?