December 20, 2007


What do we do when someone makes a mistake?

Do we forgive? Do we forget? Do we ignore? Do we move on? What do we do?

I've made plenty of them. I'll make plenty more. Others have made them. Others will make plenty more.

But it's this topic of forgiveness that keeps coming to mind. Because in forgiveness, I see the two components of grace and mercy more clearly than ever before. Grace in the good we extend in forgiveness, and mercy in the judgment we withhold in forgiveness.

Jesus' command here, as most of His commands are, is impossible to accomplish in our own strength. We are not forgiving people. We are not grace giving people. We are not mercy loving people. By nature, we are judgmental, arrogant, proud, legalistic, pharisaic, hard-hearted, stiff-necked bigots.

We will always tend to take it light on our own faults and magnify the defects of others. We'll always point the finger at others, and put magic ink on ourselves. By nature, we're hateful, spiteful, and quick to condemn the actions of others.

It's because of two things:

  1. Sin has corrupted our soul.
  2. We don't have a clue what the Gospel is about.

You see, 490 doesn't even begin to touch the level of forgiveness each of us has been extended. Not even close. wouldn't even get it. I've been intrigued and humbled lately by the fact that God so often describes Israel and by extension us as a prostitute who went in search of other lovers. And even though we are in our sin a dirty, nasty, prostitute – God takes us back. Forgiveness is available. Forgiveness is given.

And yet we go on, holding it against others. We're so grateful for the gift that we don't give it to others. How dare we! We have no right as prostitutes to judge adulterers. We are just as bad as they are.

And as we look at the different spheres of our life: Marriage, friendships, work, church, community, etc – are we a kind of people who understand what we were and what we are when God extended His forgiveness to us. And second, do we live and breathe as people ready, happy, and willing to dole out grace and mercy (forgiveness) to others? My guess is not.

So as you get ready to see Baby Jesus in your manger at home. Understand he wasn't a baby given to you so you could worry about how many gifts you're going to get or give this holiday season. He was a baby given because you and I were prostitutes and needed that baby's blood for forgiveness. If we want to honor that baby, we should become people that live by His power as He did.

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