Tag Archives: forgiveness

Doubting Mercy and Grace

Sometimes I have my doubts.  Specifically, I wonder if I have overestimated God’s grace.  Do I count on his mercy and forgiveness too much?

I try to live true to my faith, but I seldom live a day that exemplifies what I understand the life of a disciple should be.  I tell God I’m sorry, and I sincerely am, then I resolve to do better tomorrow.  I count on Jesus to keep me in right standing with God despite my sins of yesterday and in the face of sins to come tomorrow.

What if Jesus is screaming, “Stop it!  Just stop this sin!  Where is your faith?  Where is your commitment?  Where is your love for God?  Why do you keep calling me LORD but treating me like a “get out of jail free” card?”  What if he’s saying that to me?

I read something this week that helped me.  I’m sure the Holy Spirit stuck this in my face so I could stop doubting the degree, longevity, and sincerity of God’s forgiveness.  It came from an obvious place – the Bible.  I was reading Matthew 26 when verses 31 and 32 fell into alignment for me.

Jesus told the disciples that all of them would desert him.  He explained that Scripture foretold their flight.  Yes, Jesus knew all along that the disciples’ vows of allegiance would fall short of their conduct.  Then Jesus immediately makes a simple statement that changed my doubt into faith.  He tells them that he will meet them in Galilee after he has risen from the dead.  In my paraphrase, it goes something like, “You all are going to desert me, BUT (despite this desertion) I want to meet up with you after it’s over.”

Jesus knows I’ll fall short just like the disciples, BUT he wants to meet with me anyhow.  In my heart, I heard Jesus say, “Phipps, I know you sin, but I still want you with me.”

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Beyond Forgiveness

weekly theme #46 Beyond Forgiveness*    

week containing the Sunday between September 11-17

The theme for this week intrigued me.  What does it mean, “Beyond Forgiveness”?  Here’s my first idea.  After people and God forgive me, I must decide how this forgiveness will change me.  How will my life be altered so this same forgiveness is not required tomorrow?  Temptation will come, but how can I lessen its attractiveness and increase my resolve?  Frequently aligning myself with God’s Spirit seems critical.  I must repeatedly pledge my allegiance to God.  God will shield me from evil’s attacks with a “wall” of protection, but I must resist the temptation to open the gate out of curiosity else evil will seep in the gap.  Beyond forgiveness is the need for full devotion and cooperation with God.

Beyond forgiveness, a new path lies before me that was near all the time, but I was blind to it.  The Lord leads me in this path and teaches me, if I will be humble enough to learn.  My pride makes me so stubborn, so arrogant that I think it is others, not me, who are in the greatest need of Jesus’ guidance.  No wonder I stumble and fall.  From my experience, walking this path of holiness is only temporary.  It seems odd.  When I am on the right path, walking with God, I can’t imagine straying off of it.  Then, after a time, I seem to awake from a spiritual sleep and find myself off the path.  My response depends upon whether I’m only slightly off or lost in the wilderness, but the solution is always the same.  I cry out to God, and he leads me back to the path he has prepared for me.  For beyond forgiveness is more forgiveness.

Moses told the descendents of Jacob that God wanted them to witness the awesome power of the Lord.  He added, “…let your fear of him keep you from sinning.”  In Romans 14 Paul talks about living righteously out of love for God and others.  Two different motives, but both with the intent of living a life aligned with God’s will.  I’ve lived with both motivations, and I think I still do.  In either case, beyond forgiveness is the opportunity for a more godly life.  Thank God!

Beyond forgiveness is oneness and peace.  Jesus’ sacrifice on behalf of all people allows us to look beyond our differences and live in harmony with one another – not unison, harmony.  Each, in our uniqueness, is valued in the family of God.  I long for the time when differences without strife are the norm.

Forgiveness provides a chance to change, even restart anew.  God can redeem me – let me live my life to full value.  Beyond forgiveness is the potential for a redeemed life.

*A Guide To Prayer by Job and Shawchuck provided the scripture references and readings that inspired these reflections.  I found this devotional to be the most heart changing of any I’ve used.  It truly lives up to its title.

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Forgiveness

weekly theme #45 Forgiveness*      

week containing the Sunday between September 4-10

When I read the theme for this week, I immediately thought of me forgiving others and asking others to forgive me.  However, the readings begin by focusing on God forgiving me.  Even though my sin required Jesus’ death, he forgives me.  Who is this God with such amazing grace and capacity to forgive?  Even more amazing, he eagerly forgives with love and joy rather than reluctantly with duty and a grudge. 

Forgiving is not the same as overlooking.  Forgiveness has obligation on both sides.  When I offend someone, I need to acknowledge my error to the offended and ask forgiveness.  I can’t dismiss it as minor or without consequence.  When someone asks me to forgive them, I cannot glibly dismiss their apology as if there was no substance to their request.  Maybe I did not recognize or feel their offense, but they did.  Coming to me took courage and humility that demands me to acknowledge their offense and respond in respect, love, and forgiveness.  Anything less may cause the person to hesitate to ask forgiveness in the future because they may think their offense was not noticed or that the apology will not be well received.  The process of offending, apologizing, forgiving, and healing is important and requires respect by all parties concerned.

I’ve heard people say that respect is earned, but I don’t agree.  Respect is due every human because of the eternal soul within them.  (Admiration, honor, friendship, and other opinions are usually earned.)  In this aspect, forgiveness is like respect; it need not be earned, only given.  This makes unrequested forgiveness a gift, not something earned by an offender’s apology.  In such cases, the gift is first to me.  I free myself from carrying the burdens of resentment, anger, and revenge.  I may never embrace my offender as a close friend, but I need not grasp them as my enemy.  The gift is secondly to those around me.  They do not suffer because of the moodiness born out of my unforgiving heart.  Finally, the offender may be redeemed through the evidence of my forgiveness.  This is a difficult journey to a worthy destination.

I end this week revisiting the start – God’s forgiveness toward me.  I need not be terrified of his punishment or even that he will ignore me.  He is a fearful God, powerful and righteous, and yet so loving.  “All you who fear the Lord, trust the Lord!  He is your helper; he is your shield.” (Psalm 115:11)

*A Guide To Prayer by Job and Shawchuck provided the scripture references and readings that inspired these reflections.  I found this devotional to be the most heart changing of any I’ve used.  It truly lives up to its title.

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