A Forgiving God
Bible Reading: Matthew 6:9-15
We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
One motivation for preparing our list and making amends with the people we've hurt is the hope of having a clear conscience. We have lived with self-condemnation and probably hope that making amends will help us find forgiveness. Looking for forgiveness in the wrong places, however, may bring disappointment and give others unwarranted power over us.
The Bible doesn't teach us to go to people to find forgiveness. God is the one who grants forgiveness: "If we confess our sins to him [God], he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness" (1 John 1:9). Jesus taught us to pray: "Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us" (Matthew 6:12). He went on to explain, "If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins" (6:14-15).
The purpose for making amends is to take personal responsibility for our behavior and the effect it has had on others. If those people respond by offering forgiveness, that is a nice bonus. Our forgiveness, however, is not in their hands. Forgiveness is with God in Jesus Christ. "For he [God] forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities" (Colossians 2:13-15).
By refusing to make amends, we deny our own sinfulness and our need of God's forgiveness.
Taken from The Life Recovery Devotional: Thirty Meditations from Scripture for Each Step in Recovery by Stephen Arterburn and David Stoop. Copyright © 1991 by Stephen Arterburn and David Stoop. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.