When someone asked a hermit to define humility, he answered, “Humility is when you forgive someone who has wronged you before he expresses regret.”
I cannot think of how many times in my experience the subject of apologies has come up along with the subject of forgiveness. Of course when someone asks forgiveness we should forgive – indeed, it would seem that according to Christ’s commandments we sin if we refuse such a request. But there is a certain satisfaction, even a certain affirmation of our own correctness when such an apology is forthcoming. Many an unbeliever could be so magnanimous.
But to forgive before we have been asked can be a great act of humility – not if we do so because we are so good – but that we do so because we are empyting ourselves of the demand for human justice (on a personal level) and equality. We “take the lower seat.” And we can do so because such emptying holds the promise of the fullness of God. Such lowering holds the promise of exaltation with Christ.
Before ever He was asked, Christ extended forgiveness to the world. From the Cross he prayed for us, “For they know not what they do.” He had already emptied Himself. We may forgive, indeed should forgive as Christ forgave, in order to be like Him. Or do we despise such an honor?