Psalm 130:3-4 If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins,
O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness;
therefore you are feared.
This anonymous Psalm is deeply insightful. In the first place, it is fully aware of the sinful state of mankind. But then it says something that on the surface might seem counter-intuitive. Why would God’s forgiveness make people fear Him? There is actually a deep truth here. When you forgive someone, you are freeing yourself from their control. On the personal level, when we refuse to forgive someone, we make ourselves slaves to them, because the hurt we received from them binds our hearts. When we forgive, we let go of that hurt and are thus set free. On the broader level, it takes authority and power to forgive, as in a presidential pardon. That’s why the scribes and Pharisees were so offended when Jesus told the paralytic he was forgiven. (Matthew 9:1-8) Jesus then demonstrated that He had the authority to forgive by healing the man, and the common people rejoiced. It is a matter of extreme importance that Jesus explicitly gave authority to forgive to his disciples after His resurrection. (John 20:23) That is directly connected to His statement in the Great Commission that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him. (Matthew 28:18) When we are operating in full submission to and harmony with Christ, that authority operates in and through us. There’s a mind-blowing thought for you! We aren’t to seek authority on our own, but are to seek Christ, (Philippians 3:10-11) and not run from the flow of authority that is involved in that. And the best way to start is by forgiving those who have hurt us, thereby liberating ourselves from the control of the devil.
This is a truth that I have been growing into over the years. I am quite ambivalent about authority, both desiring it and hesitating to exercise it. I know full well that authority is never divorced from responsibility, and I’m not really excited about that! I have felt for many years that God has given me this city of Omura, both in terms of authority and responsibility, but I didn’t really know what to do with it. Every week on Sunday mornings I drive around to each of the six churches in town, praying God’s blessings on them, but I haven’t done much more than that. Just now, prompted by the Holy Spirit, I proclaimed forgiveness to the people of Omura and their ancestors, who either chose physical life over martyrdom or who betrayed their neighbors who refused to make that choice. [My wife, in editing this, put that sentence in boldface type, concerned that others would miss it, as she did when we were sharing our devotional notes with each other.] At one time this was indeed the foremost Christian city in the nation, with 80,000 practicing Christians, and it is the vision given to this church that it would be so again. I have realized for many years that forgiveness is an issue that binds the Japanese people, but I didn’t know what to do about it, besides speaking the truth in love whenever given the opportunity. What I have just done may turn out to be the key for the salvation of the whole nation.
Father God, I am blown out of the water. Thank You for this. Thank You for making it clear that I’m not to go around talking about it, because that would inflate me. Help me share this truth with those You indicate, so that they in turn may share, not casually but effectively, (2 Timothy 2:2) so that indeed Your name may be acknowledged and Your sovereignty established as Your will is done, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!