I’m thinking about forgiveness today. When Paul wrote “…And all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24 NIV), what did he mean? He means that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (3:23). But if we repent of our sins and ask for God’s forgiveness, we are justified freely by his grace: the penalty for our sins is paid in full. God treats us “just-as-if-we’d-never-sinned.” Like it never even happened.
Isn’t that what the psalmist says? “…As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12 NIV). Removed. Gone. Forgotten. Like it never happened. God treats our transgressions, sins, and mishaps that way. Why is it so difficult for us to treat each other this way? We make mistakes. We say things we should not say. We must forgive. Jesus said so. And what if we don’t? “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14, 15 NIV).
For true forgiveness to happen we have to get to the place where we let things go. Like it never even happened. That’s not easy. The greater the sin, the greater the grace needed to get to this place. “But I can’t forget!” You’re right. Not without help. God must pour on the grace. “…Where sin increased, grace increased all the more” (Romans 5:20 NIV). I praise God for his super-abounding grace. Do your part. “(Love) does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:5 NIV). Keep no records. Let it go. And soon, you may get to the place where you can record: like it never even happened.
David F. Nixon, D.Min
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