By William Barclay (1907-1978), The Daily Study Bible:
Here is the eternal principle: Forgiveness is a costly thing.
Human forgiveness is costly. A son or a daughter may go wrong; a father or a mother may forgive; but that forgiveness has brought tears; it has brought whiteness to the hair, lines to the faces, a cutting anguish, and then a long dull ache to the heart. It did not cost nothing. There was the price of a broken heart to pay.
Divine forgiveness is costly. God is love, but God is holiness. God, least of all, can break the great moral laws on which the universe is built. Sin must have its punishment or the very structure of life disintegrates. And God alone can pay the terrible price that is necessary before men can be forgiven. Forgiveness is never a matter of saying: “It’s all right; it doesn’t matter.” Forgiveness is the most costly thing in the world. Without the shedding of heart’s blood there can be no remission and forgiveness of sins. There is nothing which brings the effect of his sin on someone with such arresting violence as to see the effect of his sin on someone who loves him in this world, or on the God who loves him forever, and to say to himself: “It cost that to forgive my sin.” Where there is forgiveness, someone must be crucified on a cross.
Genesis 6:5-6 — The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.
Hosea 11:1-4…7a — (The Lord said), “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. But the more they were called, the more they went away from me. They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images. It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them… (But) my people are determined to turn from me.”
Romans 3:21-26 — But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood– to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished– he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
Fix Thou our steps, O Lord, that we stagger not at the uneven motions of the world, but steadily go on to our glorious home; neither censuring our journey by the weather we meet with, nor turning out of the way for anything that befalls us. The winds are often rough, and our own weight presses us downwards. Reach forth, O Lord, thy hand, thy saving hand, and speedily deliver us. Teach us, O Lord, to use this transitory life as pilgrims returning to their beloved home; that we may take what our journey requires, and not think of settling in a foreign country. Amen.
–Author unknown; quoted in Eerdman’s Book of Famous Prayers, page 64, compiled by Veronica Zundel, Wm. B. Eerdman Publishing Co. 1983.