Sunday, December 17, 2017

Forgiveness


I feel like as Christians, we are constantly playing defense to the world.  We are told we can't mess up. We have to be perfect. We can't make mistakes.

It's an impossibly high standard; one that is exhausting to live out on our own.

And you know what? It IS an impossibly high standard. That's why we are so exhausted, frustrated and disheartened when we can't live up to it.   It's as simple as that though. We can't live up to it - no way, no how.  Even if we try, we won't make it.  We WILL mess up eventually (daily??).

And that is why we need a Savior.  Only HE can meet that standard, which is impossible for us - perfection. We can't do it, but He can.

In 1 Corinthians, the Bible explains that the world doesn't understand us.

But people who aren't spiritual can't receive these truths from God's Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can't understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.

The world doesn't understand that Christians are self-admittedly not perfect people.  That we DO mess up, we DO make mistakes, and we DO sin daily.  They don't understand that to receive salvation through Christ, we have already admitted and professed this fact to God.  They don't understand that receiving salvation doesn't make us perfect, it just makes us forgiven.

Because they don't understand salvation, we are always playing defense.  The world expects perfection of us, and we know it's not possible.

The hardest thing though is when other Christians try to hold each other to the impossibly high standard of perfection.  Sometimes as Christians, we become so used to the basic principles of Christianity, like forgiveness, that we become numb as to what they really mean and how we can practically apply them.  It becomes something like what I do with Karsten each night.

Each night, Karsten and I pray together.  We thank God for things, talk about our day, etc., but at the end we always end with this:

Thank you most of all for Jesus.  Thank you that Jesus lived for us, that He died for us, and that he rose again so that we can be forgiven.  In Jesus name, Amen. 

Karsten knows these words by heart.  She repeats them every night and has for about a year.  She KNOWS them, but does she really own them? Does she know what she is saying? Or is it just rote memorization?

About a month ago, at the end of our prayer she started asking "But Mommy, why do we have to be forgiven?"  And I got the privilege of explaining that to her.  Now she finishes her prayer and says "Mommy, we have to be forgiven because we all make bad choices.  Even Mommies and Daddies make bad choices. And only Jesus can forgive our hearts."

She knows the words, and one day I hope she will OWN the words.

As Christians, we have to do the same.  We know the words "I forgive you" but we have to own them.  We can't expect perfection from others.  After all, we aren't perfect ourselves.  Offering forgiveness is not just the nice thing to, it's the biblical thing to do.

Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32

Make allowance for each other's faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Colossians 3:13

If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. Matthew 6:14 

There are so many verses in the Bible about us forgiving others, you would think it is something we all struggle with, huh?  Yeah - it's not easy. That's why we should pray to God and ask him to help us forgive honestly and truly.  And that is a prayer He will always answer, because it is a prayer that will always be in line with His word.

There's no better time to offer forgiveness than now - the present.  There's also no better time of year to offer forgiveness than now - as we celebrate the Savior's birth, the one who offers US forgiveness.



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