Good News: Forgiveness - Guidelines Devotional
January 28, 2021

Good News: Forgiveness

If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?  But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.  Psalm 130:3-4

“To err is human; to forgive, divine,” said the wise man long ago.  It’s true, but of all the transactions which take place between people, none is more difficult than to seek and give forgiveness.  There’s good news, however.  Forgiveness is the key to emotional and spiritual healing and the passport to your future happiness.  It’s God’s way of eliminating the cancer of hatred and anger which rips the fabric of relationships apart much as a little boy tears the wrapper off a candy bar.

The Psalmist wrote, “If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?  But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared” (Psalm 130:3,4).   Who was the author?  Probably David, one of the greatest personalities of all time, a man who earned the respect of generations not only for what he did but for his humility in acknowledging his sins and failure.

A few minutes ago I used my computer to scan the text of the Bible to see how many times the phrase, “I have sinned,” appears in the Bible.  A rather wide group of people cried out, “I have sinned,” but only David said, “I have sinned greatly!”

Was David that much worse than others?  Not necessarily.  But what David did gives us insights to what we must do in coming to grips with the necessity of forgiveness.  First, he acknowledged his personal failure.  When he had a sexual relationship with another man’s wife and ultimately was responsible for his death, David could have said, “I couldn’t help it.  I was just overwhelmed with Bathsheba’s beauty.”  Even though he was king, he wasn’t exempt from the consequences.  His conscience convicted him and he knew that his sin was not only against Bathsheba and her husband, he had sinned against God. “My sin is always before me,” said David, adding, “Against you, you only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight…” (Psalm 51:4).

            Do you want to silence that voice within which says what you have done is wrong?  Then do what David did:  First, admit your wrongdoing, then take the second step:  Ask God to forgive you.   David cried out, “‘O LORD, have mercy on me; heal me, for I have sinned against you” (Psalm 41:4).   It takes strength to do that, but with it comes the reward of peace and joy.  The New Testament says if we confess our sins, God is faithful and will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness or wrongdoing (see 1 John 1:9).  The word to confess really means to agree.  It was the word which you would use when you wanted to match two sticks which were of equal length and size.  It means that your heart says, “Yes, God, I agree with your verdict.  I sinned.”

It’s also interesting to notice that when David asked for forgiveness, he also asked for healing.  Can you relate to that?  Frankly, it’s a lot easier to find God’s forgiveness than it is to forgive ourselves and to get on with the process of putting our lives together after a hideous failure.  That involves inner healing– which brings us to the third step in the process of restoration:  Cooperate with the Lord in bringing healing to your life and the lives of those whom you have hurt.   My definition of forgiveness is this:  “I give up my right to hurt you because you hurt me.”  That process of giving up something means I have to release the bitterness and the pain as well as giving up my hatred of myself, the resentfulness which I feel towards myself because in a moment of weakness or lust, I destroyed what I really love and want.  Thank God, David was right:  There is forgiveness with God which allows you to forgive yourself as well.

Resource reading: Psalm 41.

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