Forgiveness; March 30, 2022

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 has long been a deeply impressive passage to me. From one standpoint it seems illogical. If God forgives, then why fear Him? However, the Psalmist understands the nature of sin, and the nature of true forgiveness. Any God who can genuinely forgive sin has got to be incredibly powerful. We seldom think about that, much less grasp it. Part of the Japanese reluctance to forgive and to accept forgiveness comes from this, I think. Forgiveness is seen as something someone greatly superior would do for someone inferior. Telling someone, “I forgive you,” can create all sorts of problems! That of course runs counter to Christian teaching, but it’s a fact of the culture. Americans, on the other hand, can be flippant about forgive­ness, using the word without putting their heart, or even their head, into it. The Psalmist here overcomes all of that, acknowledging the sinfulness of mankind, including himself, and focusing on the incredible grace of our omnipotent Creator, who can and does forgive when we repent. This points out what an incredible thing Jesus said to His disciples after the resurrection: “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (John 20:23) He was delegating some of the authority given to Him (Matthew 28:18) to those who believed in Him and operated by His Spirit, whom He gave to them. Forgiveness really is a big deal, but in Christ it is our hope, when we receive it, and our privilege, when we impart it.

This certainly applies to me. I am at times intensely aware of my tendency to sin, and less often, aware of sins against me. Looking at the world, I see people sinning against each other and against God everywhere I look. The current war in Ukraine is an intense example of that. It was sin that the Russian troops were sent in, but thousands of them have paid for the sins of their superiors with their lives. There is plenty of sin to go around, and there needs to be an equal abundance of forgiveness when it is all resolved. This is where the difference between forgiving and excusing comes out. There is no excuse for Vladimir Putin ordering this invasion, and I believe God will call him to account for it, but I have been given the incredible privilege of forgiveness, and I am to exercise that so that I too may be forgiven. (Matthew 6:14-15) I am to recognize the omnipotence of God and allow His power to forgive to operate in and through me, for the salvation of many and for His glory.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Help me indeed fear You appropriately so that I may love You completely, so that Your love may flow through me to those around me for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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