Have you ever been somewhere – church, or school, or otherwise – and something gets explained to you that you feel like you knew, but you just never knew it that way? Where all the pieces were there, but all it took was for someone just to explain it a certain way and it suddenly clicked? It happens to me all the times. Particularly, it happened this morning in church.
I feel forgiveness is something that I’ve become pretty familiar with. Dare I say, I feel I’m even pretty good at forgiving. I’m the type of person that if I feel someone genuinely seeks forgiveness, I’ll always forgive them. I won’t say it’s always easy to forget and move on, but I’ve learned that time often erases those past hurts. I try to always hold it close to my heart not to keep a record of wrongs with other people – after all, some people could probably have quite a long list of wrongs I’ve committed against them.
What I learned today is that I think I’m much better at forgiving than I am at being forgiven. Especially when it comes to my sin and God.
I know that I need forgiveness and I know God freely gives it to those who seek it, but I could never really wrap my mind around just how great His forgiveness is. I don’t think there’s many people out there who can say that they truly don’t hold any grudges; people who can say that they forgive perfectly. I try my best, but I know I fall far short. But God’s forgiveness doesn’t.
The thing I love so much about God’s forgiveness is that it covers everything. Big or small. No matter how badly you think you’ve sinned, it’s not too much for God; He’ll still forgive you.
Regardless, I think I have two favorite new things I recognized the significance of all over again today.
First, we don’t need to “clean” ourselves up in order to be good enough to earn His love or forgiveness. God’s biggest act of transforming love and forgiveness meets us in the midst of our darkness. Romans 5:8 says: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” While we were still sinners. In the middle of the sin of all humankind, God wanted to forgive and redeem us. Before some at the time even knew what to be sorry for, and before you and I would even have the chance to be sorry, God forgave and covered all of us.
Second, and this is honestly the big one for me. Because of my own brokenness, every time I inevitably sinned and sought forgiveness for the umpteenth time, all I could think of was how God must look down on me and think, “Oh, here’s Dan again praying for me to forgive the same thing as always. How many does this make?” Even though I had heard in church that God won’t count our wrongs, part of me always felt like it must get old when I can’t seem to breakaway from sin.
But then I realized just how often the Bible tells us that He’s not counting. Here’s some examples (emphasis mine):
“Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.” -Romans 4:8
“as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” -Psalm 103:12
And okay, those are people talking about God’s forgiveness.. what about the words straight from God?
“then he [The Holy Spirit] adds: ‘I will remember their sins and lawless deeds no longer.‘” -Hebrews 10:17 (ESV)
“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” -Isaiah 43:25
I don’t know what it was about this morning, but it was so re-assuring and comforting to be reminded today that God isn’t keeping track; He’s not keeping score. When God forgives us, He really forgives us.. like, for real. It’s a clean slate. We are washed clean.
It’s not as if Christ died for us and we now have one chance to get things as right as we can, all while slowly accumulating the dirtiness of our sins. The love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ is constantly and perfectly washing us clean. In his sacrifice, the snares of sin were defeated, we need only to turn to God and ask and receive His forgiveness.
To God be the Glory.