March 4, 2013

My Father’s forgiveness

When our family reminisces, the children occasionally come up with a blunder I made when they were small, and in fun poke me with my folly. Usually I don’t remember it. That is good, because I usually don’t remember their blunders either.

Imagine remembering every mistake, every sin, every dumb or foolish action. Life would either be laden with guilt or full of excuses. I’m so glad that Jesus died on the cross for all my sin and all is forgiven in His name.

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. (Psalm 103:8–13)

God has freely provided compassion and forgiveness for the faults of His children. Not only that, He provides cleansing and free access to Him so I can admit sin and receive His amazing grace.

Spurgeon says that good children are “never satisfied until they get to their parents and ask their forgiveness.” I don’t know about the ‘good’ part, but I do know that when I sin, I’m so glad that God is available to me. While I might squirm and rationalize for a little while, “the kiss is on my cheek almost before the confession has left my lips.”

The Lord is always ready to forgive, but am I? when someone sins against me, can I offer them the same quick pardon? Or do I want them to grovel for awhile?
Today’s reading reminds me of my readiness to forgive my children and the blessing forgiveness has been in our own household. If it were not so, our family would have shattered long ago. The church, the children of God are also family, not by genetics, but by the blood of Christ. We ought to be just as quick to forgive them as our children, and certainly as faithful and just to forgive them as God forgives us.

Forgiveness isn’t about being glad to see someone sorry or groveling, or even about their confession and repentance. It is about Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for sin. Even on the cross when His enemies were pounding in the nails, He said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Much like a loving parent, the love of my heavenly Father is not turned away when I blunder into sin. Because of Christ, His anger against my transgressions has already been poured out on the One who died for me. With that out of the way, He can gather me to Himself and say, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3), blot out my transgressions and set my feet on a rock. Because of Jesus, He can even strengthen me so that sin tempts me no more.

Such a sweet, sweet thought — He does not deal with me according to my sins, nor repay me according to my iniquities, for as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward me. As far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove my transgressions from me! 

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