Monday, November 21, 2011

A Second Chance - Again and Again

Have you ever had to say I'm sorry? I don't mean sorry I bumped into you, or sorry I walked off with your pen, or sorry I took the last Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, or even sorry I burped out loud. We all say "sorry" many times each day for all kinds of things and it barely registers to either the speaker or the hearer. It costs us nothing and often even makes us laugh.

I'm talking about saying, "I'm so sorry. I was - fill in the blank here... wrong, an idiot, so insensitive, selfish...

I'm talking about the kind of sorry that makes your heart hurt to speak your transgression aloud. The kind that brings the heat of shame to your face and the uncomfortable knowledge that someone - maybe many someones - now knows that you're not all that great, really. The kind that can instantly humble you years later just by recalling the episode.  That kind!

The kind that when you're through with your confession you must humbly ask, "Will you please forgive me?"

If you're feeling the heat start to creep right now, then you know what I'm talking about, don't you? The truth is whether we've acknowledged it or not, we've all been there. We've either had to do it, or we still need to do it.

The good news is that we have the perfect example of forgiveness in Jesus. And the rest of that news is...we don't have to go first. Scripture tells us that God's plan for forgiveness was established before the world was even made. He knew everything we were about to do. And he made us anyway. Amazing!

Read Matthew 18 and the parable of the unmerciful servant. This is where Jesus tells his disciples that they should forgive 70 x 7. That does not mean 490 times. It means, do not keep score. God doesn't! He removes our sins as far away as the east is from the west and "remembers them no more". Can mere mortals do any less?

Remember that part where Jesus said if you are offering your gifts at the altar and remember that you have offended someone, leave your gift and go make it right? (Matt 5:23) That is a daily commission to us. And it works both ways. Sometimes we need to offer forgiveness, sometimes we need to ask for and accept it. A humbling task? Absolutely! But here are some of the perks of obedience:

  1. We actually are obedient - God loves that!
  2. We get out from under the weight of sin.
  3. We may enjoy the beauty of restored relationships.
  4. We set an example for unbelievers of the grace and mercy of Christ.
  5. We let go of the anger that can grow and fester in us like a poison.
There are lots of others. You can add some here.

Today, during this season of thanksgiving, I will be thankful for the gift of forgiveness - giving and receiving. I need it every day, don't you. I'm glad that God doesn't keep score. If he did he would have run out of paper a long time ago for me. Because he doesn't I can call on his grace and mercy to me when I need to forgive. 

It feels good. It feels right. It's so hard sometimes. 

Thank you Lord for forgiving me so long ago, and for making it real every day. Thank you for not keeping score - I couldn't stand up under the weight of that. Let your grace and mercy run deeply in me to extend forgiveness to others as you have done for me. 

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