Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 16:6
"By lovingkindness and truth iniquity is atoned for,
and by the fear of the Lord one keeps away from evil"
What should you do when you sin?
How do you get people to really forgive you?
How can you get people to really forget what you did?
This proverb gives insight into the two things that are required if others are really going to forgive you. You must be truthful about what you did and consistently loving towards those you offended.
Too many people want to put their offense behind them without ever really admitting that they did it. Whether you have offended God or others, there is a level of confession that is needed to get the slate started anew.
The word truth in the Hebrew is the word omnam which means truly or truth or faithful or with certainty. In this verse, it would seem to carry to ideas that are a part of moving past iniquity and having people not define you by that sin. First, the idea of truth or what actually happened – that needs to be declared and then a judgment on whether it was right or wrong. When one does something to offend another, there was a place where they made a choice to do something wrong. It is that choice point that needs to be exposed. "I chose to _______ and that was wrong." Until one can see the choice point and understand it from a moral point of view, then one does not understand the offense. "God, I was wrong when I did this or that. It was wrong and I ask you to apply the blood of Christ to my sin. Remind me as I approach that point so that I would not sin against you again.”
The second idea in this word translated truth is faithfulness. If a person has offended God or another and they declare their desire to change and not offend in the same way, then they must truly repent and move off in a new direction. They must demonstrate that they will not offend in that way again. Often the person offended has to watch you come to the place where you could offend and actually see you turn away a few times before they will really be able to relax and forgive you. It is your faithfulness to the new road that brings a complete covering for sin. Many people are not really ready to forgive you for a deep offense until they see that you are not like that anymore.
Theologically the only reason why we can have forgiveness of our sins is because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross. He was willing to be our sin bearer. Now interestingly enough it was His lovingkindness and faithfulness that secured for us the sacrifice for our sins. This is the foundation of and reason for any forgiveness we receive.
We need to act like Jesus and act with lovingkindness and faithfulness to show people that our belief in the Savior has made a real difference in our lives.
The word for lovingkindness is the word hesed. This is the word for love, lovingkindness, mercy, goodness. You must demonstrate lovingkindness to those you have offended if they are ever to really forgive you and move past the scar you have left in their life. This is difficult and seems harsh, but if you have truly repented of what you did, then lovingkindness toward the offended party would seem reasonable.
I have talked with a number of people who say: Why can't they just get over it? They always seem to hold it over my head? The answer is that the scar is very deep and affected them significantly. Therefore your change must last and your lovingkindness must overshadow the scar.
The word love is an action word which I have understood means to meet needs, to pursue, and to please. I have loved a person when I have met their needs, pursued them, or pleased them. It is these actions done over time that will atone for sin that I have committed in another person's life.
It is important to say that it is almost impossible to be in relationship with another person and not offend them. We cannot expect fallen people not to do offensive things. We can, however, make sure that we meet their needs and pursue them and please them and in that way swallow our sins with our love. Relationships have ups and downs, but they all go better with lovingkindness.
The word hesed has recently been translated loyalty as though the major element of one's love for God in the Old Testament was loyalty to the covenant that God brought the people. This, however, obscures the love for the God of the covenant. Most significantly Jesus understands the word to be love not loyalty. I believe that the best translation of the word hesed is the older translation of lovingkindness.
The type of sin which is being discussed here is iniquity which is moving outside of the boundaries of the Ten Commandments and living there. This is much more serious than trespass sins which is going outside of God's boundaries and getting back. Iniquity is disregarding God's right to tell you what to do and living in sin for some period of time. The question in this proverb is how do you have people forgive you when you have openly rebelled against God's moral boundaries and lived in sin causing deep scars and offense. The answer is that one must truthfully confess and begin a process of faithfully living a life of lovingkindness.
Do not expect people to just "forgive" because they are supposed to. Demonstrate a repentant heart through truth and faithfulness. In this way, you will begin healing the scars that you caused.