The Bible certainly contains scriptures that speak about repenting and confessing before we are forgiven. 1 John 1: “8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
But there is also a sense, a reading of scripture, that God forgives humanity before we ask. Take Isaiah 44:22: “I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me for I have redeemed you.” (NIV); in Jeremiah 31:34 God announces the New Covenant saying he will remember sins no more.
One of the clearest passages is in Colossians 2 in which Paul writes to the Gentile church, “13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” (ESV)
In Colossians 1: 20 we read that God made peace with his creation through the blood of Christ shed on the cross. Paul also writes that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them (2Cor. 5:19). I don’t think God could approach us without first making peace with humanity
This all has implications for why we forgive others their transgressions against us even if they have not asked for forgiveness. This is the miracle of God’s grace and love at work in the cosmos. We are acting as children of our heavenly Father. In Matthew 5 Jesus tells his disciples to love even their enemies and pray for those who persecute them. (Matthew 5:44)
When we forgive another we die to ourselves, our egos, and trust any judgment to God. That’s how the Kingdom works. We are not told to forgive others for psychological or even emotional reasons. (Though it wouldn’t hurt in that regard.) We are invited to enlarge our own hearts for more of God’s grace to take up residence within us. That is life in the Kingdom.
Recall how Jesus unconditionally forgave others from the cross. He forgave Peter even before their meeting on the beach. That’s how love works. That’s how our lives best work even though it goes against the grain of our own defense mechanisms.
Christmas might be an appropriate time when conditions are right for the accomplishment of a crucial action. It’s a good time to say, ‘yes’ to God who in Christ loves us so much that his Son was willing to die for us. It’s a good time for us to ‘be like our heavenly Father’ and let go of the sins of others. There may be consequences for their sin but those are not ours to choose. Our choice is to love as God has loved us.
A Blessed Christmas to all.