Thursday, August 30, 2012

Forgiveness

A philosopher (my dad) once asked me, "How can God forgive me for a sin I committed against another person?"
Or, another way to put it: "If someone sins against me, shouldn't I be the one in the position to grant forgiveness rather than God?"
I won't attempt to answer that question here (although it makes for a very interesting philosophical/theological debate), but it did make an important distinction in my mind.

I know that God loves me beyond measure. I know that He is kind and compassionate and merciful. I know there is nothing I need to do to earn His favor. I know that He forgives me and removes my sins as far as the east is from the west. I know Jesus died for all of my sins and the price was paid. But what about the people I hurt when I sin? What about the consequences of sin...not just for myself, but for those I hurt?

In my weakness, I hurt those I love - through neglect, through impatience and irritability, through my continual inability to balance my time and energy, through wrong thought patterns. It isn't intentional, of course. But I have witnessed plenty the depth of pain I can cause through unintentional offense. For my young children, who don't understand the implications of cancer, what pain have I caused them? What damage have I done?

I hate being weak. I hate not having control. Now the big test comes: Do I trust God in my weakness? Of course, I think that I do. I say that I do. But in this area, with the tender hearts of the ones I love, do I really trust God? Do I trust that He is able to overcome my weaknesses in their lives?

Probably the biggest lesson we all have to learn is forgiveness. It is not until we truly realize our own great need for forgiveness and experience that forgiveness, that we are free to forgive others. My kids have their own journey. God will use both my strengths and my weaknesses to shape them. And they will have to learn to forgive and to have a soft heart even in the midst of mistreatment (hopefully I won't be the primary tool for them to learn that lesson).

It is easy for me to forgive, for I have been forgiven much. And once more, through my failures, I learn the lesson of forgiveness. I desire forgiveness from both God and man. I'm so thankful that God has forgiven me, and that His mercies are new every morning. It is because of His great love for me that I can trust Him, even in my weakness. Especially in my weakness.

"Those who know your name trust in you,
  for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you."  ~Psalm 9:10

"But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation."  ~Psalm 13:5

"The Lord is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor punished us according to our iniquities.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us." ~Psalm 103:8-12


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