March 21, 2014
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
Psalm 103: 12
King James Version
“The Sin Problem #4”
“Forgiveness” – To renounce anger and resentment against another.
Have I been willing to accept God’s forgiveness in my life?
Will I bestow this gift on others?
“There is only one person God cannot forgive. The person who refuses to come to Him for forgiveness.”
I’ll never forget being on the playground one day when I was a child. One of the boys decided to pull some shenanigan on several of us girls. We were livid and being the little tattletales that we were, we quickly reported his errant behavior to our teacher. Our teacher, in turn, informed the young man that he was to apologize. Of course, as you might expect, this was a coerced apology and the disgruntled boy, mumbling under his breath, said a half-hearted, “Sorry!” Then, much to my surprise, the teacher turned to the “reporters,” and I was in this group, and said, “Now, it is your turn to tell him ‘he’s forgiven!’” To this day, I’ll never forget my snotty response. I looked at the wayward young man and in my haughtiest voice I spit out these words, “Oh, I’ll forgive you – but look out. I’ll never forget!”
Thankfully, as time has passed and I’ve matured, I have come to agree with Henry Ward Beecher who wrote, “I can forgive but I cannot forget’ is only another way of saying, “I cannot forgive.’”
The longer I live the more I believe forgiveness is one of the qualities of heaven which brings me closest to the Divine. For forgiveness is the key that unlocks the gift of God’s love in my heart, allowing me to pour love on another person. Carrie ten Boom expanded even more on the thought of forgiveness being a “key” when she wrote: “Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hate. It is a power that breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness.”
Several years ago, someone my husband and I were involved with in business breached the bond of trust we thought we had and hurt us in an almost catastrophically financial way. I am being totally honest when I tell you it has been extremely difficult through the years to watch this person walk away from the chaos and hurt he inflicted and then hear him gloat about all his supposed success while we were left to clean up the devastating mess that was dumped in our laps. I truly thought I would never be able to forgive. But I want to share with you what has helped me forgive – and it is very simple. As I have begun to more deeply understand how my Father has forgiven me – it has become easier to forgive others.
The apostle Paul in the book of Colossians 2: 13 wrote, “God forgave us all our sins.” Isn’t this a wonderful assurance? God doesn’t just forgive my little white lies or my little black sins. He forgives the big ones, too! Those massive problems that build such a wall between His love and my heart that I get myself into the dangerous position of thinking I’m so great I can do everything on my own and don’t need Him at all. As Hans King penned, “Jesus ventured – as no prophet had ever ventured – to proclaim God’s forgiveness, completely gratis, instead of legal penalties, and also to grant it in a personal way in order by this very encouragement to make possible repentance and forgiveness towards our fellow (humans.)” Or as Jesus taught us in the Lord’s Prayer – “Forgive as you have been forgiven.”
But there is also one more element present in the act of forgiveness. While it is God’s desire we accept His gift of forgiveness and bestow it upon others – He also wants us to bestow this gift upon ourselves or as C.S. Lewis said, “I think that if God forgives us, we must forgive ourselves.”
The great preacher D. L. Moody, as he was preaching, noted that if God promises to cast all our confessed sins into the depths of the sea, we need to stay away from the place where God’s posted a “No Fishing” sign.
May God’s divine gift of forgiveness be accepted in our lives and shared in the lives of those we meet each day.
“We are most like beasts when we kill;
Most like men when we judge;
Most like God when we forgive.”
If I have wounded any soul today,
If I have caused one foot to go astray,
If I have walked in my own willful way-
Good Lord, forgive!
If I have uttered idle words or vain,
If I have turned aside from want or pain,
Lest I myself should suffer through the strain –
Good Lord, forgive!
If I have craved for joys that are not mine,
If I have let my wayward heart repine,
Dwelling on things of earth, not things divine –
Good Lord, forgive!
If I have been perverse, or hard, or cold,
If I have longed for shelter in Thy fold,
When Thou has given me some part to hold –
Good Lord, forgive.
Forgive the sins I have confessed to Thee.
Forgive the secret sins I do not see,
That which I know not, Father, teach Thou me –
Help me to live.
Charles H. Gabriel
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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