Paul said it succinctly—“Why do I do things I don’t want to do?”
If you’re like me you’ve experienced that hangover that comes following your most recent rendezvous with sin; that same stubborn sin that seems to trip you up time and again.
I’m ashamed to admit it, but I had that hangover this morning. I’m upset with myself. Frustrated. Embarrassed. Angry. Why do I keep doing what I don’t want to do? Why doesn’t the Holy Spirit guard me from this? Why do my prayers for heart-change seem to go unanswered?I don’t know the answers, but I’m reminded of the forgiveness that is offered to me even when I do stumble. Not because I deserve his forgiveness, but because of his great love for little, bumbling me. Not because I’ve attained an absolute perfection but because I’m being perfected in my faith every day, learning to shape my actions and intentions into the shape of his.
Check out a few verses that speak about forgiveness. Though not complete, these are my prayers for today:
Psalm 86:5, 13
O LORD, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help…for your love for me is very great. You have rescued me from the depths of death. (NLT)
It all starts with God’s unfailing love which by his initiative he extends to me, even as undeserving as I am.
…Let them turn to the LORD that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously. (NLT)
I like that—so generous is his forgiveness to those who will turn to him.
Mathew 6:12, 14-15
…and forgive of our sins as we have forgiven those who sin against us…If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. (NLT)
Our forgiveness is not without condition, though. Because I’ve been forgiven I must also forgive. “Faith alone” theology is not always sure what to do with verses like this—can our willingness to forgive really have an impact on the forgiveness our Heavenly Father gives to us? Apparently so…if we are willing to trust the words of Jesus.
“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!”
And how should we forgive others—abundantly!
“I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” (NLT)
And here we see the reason that our forgiveness of others is so important—it helps to understand just how much we’ve been forgiven and allows us the grace to love Christ, and others, all the more.
From the depths of despair, O Lord, I call for your help. Hear my cry, O Lord. Pay attention to my prayer. LORD, if you kept a record of our sins who, O LORD, could ever survive? But you offer forgiveness that we might learn to fear you. (NLT)
Praise God there is no record of my failings! Even as I sit here today disappointed and frustrated, I can look to tomorrow with hope.
Don’t despair. God hears you. His unlimited love is pointed in your direction. Soak it in and share it with others. Our success in faith lies not in never stumbling but in drawing nearer to God in our weakness, that his grace and mercy might work in us and reshape is daily.