Devotional Thoughts on Forgiveness

Approaching the end of the school year, we look back over the year, remembering where we were at the beginning, considering  highlights — both achievements and disappointments — that changed us.  It is good to consider how we are different today in comparison to last August.  Are we stronger in our faith? Are we better in character: kinder, wiser,  more Christ-like? Are our changes energized not from a prideful “I can do whatever I dream” spirit, but from the Holy Spirit?

How have we handled disappointments: when we were the disappointment, letting someone else down or sinning against someone, or just irritating someone? Or when we were disappointed by someone, whether a light slight or a deep offense? How do we handle conflict? Are we committed to honesty within ourselves and with others? Are we committed to learning to love God and others more (Mark 12:29-31)? Are we committed to repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation, peacemaking, and all forms of love that oil and heal broken relationships, coming to terms with broken lives in a broken world?

In our last post, we began this final theme of forgiveness. We observed that forgiveness operates within the sphere of who God is (the LORD who is always present, in control, and our authority), who we are, and what our place is in the world. Because He is LORD, I can be forgiven and can forgive, and He will oversee justice and mercy.

In the devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers says, “Forgiveness means not merely that I am saved from hell and made right for heaven . . . .  Forgiveness means that I am forgiven into a recreated relationship, into identification with God in Christ.” I become a new creation (II Cor.  5 17).  This new creation is a new heart with “the mind of Christ” ( I Cor. 2:16;John 15:15), empowered by the Word of God (II Tim. 3:16-17), and the Holy Spirit (John 16:7-15).

We are becoming more like Christ (Romans 8:28-29; II Co. 3:18).  The evidence of the new creature is the new beauty being formed within and expressed in daily repentance (“No” to the old self) and affirmations (“Yes” to the new self in God). We are becoming what we already are in Christ (I Cor. 1:30).

This is a heavy topic. I wish I could stay with the smooth, entertaining story telling approach, but all stories, even our own, are anchored to the principles and themes they portray.  Those principles need to be examined, and we need to line up those themes and principles with the  principles of Scripture. The mature Christian does so (Hebrews 5:14).  Forgiveness is a theme and principle that needs to run through every chapter of our lives.

Forgiveness, needed and extended, is a gift from God and only occurs through the energy of the Holy Spirit. It begins with conviction which always comes from the Spirit. (Yes, there are some “always” and” nevers” in life.)  Jesus said, “When he [the Holy Spirit] comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8). We need to be quiet before God on a regular basis and listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying to us in our hearts (Psalm 46:10; Romans 8:16; I Cor. 2:6-16).

Reader, whether parent, grandparent, teen, or friend, I encourage you to read the Scriptures noted above and study them in your devotional time. Let the fresh wind of the Holy Spirit waft through your heart, cleanse you afresh, and energize you to receive His loving gifts of strength and wisdom for you today (Romans 5:1-5). Love Him. Love your family and neighbors (anyone near you). Then smile in gratitude. God is working within and around you.

Categories: Being Like Jesus, Parenting, Spiritual Growth | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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