“Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.” (Psalm 32:1, NIV)
Funny thing about the Bible… When you start reading it, you slowly begin to recognize yourself in the characters of the story. With prayer and conviction, we often swallow the lump in our throat as it dawns on us: We are Adam and Eve, trying to cover our shame. We are Peter, denying Christ when the gospel becomes counter-cultural. At our worst, we are the same ones who nailed Him to the cross. Our sin held Him there.
"I’m the one who held the nail / It was cold between my fingertips / I’ve hidden in the garden / I’ve denied You with my very lips"
It’s humbling, isn’t it? The gap between our depravity and His holiness is infinite. Our sins are oftentimes more than we can bear and greater than we can count. The canyon between who we are and who we were created to be gets wider by the day, it seems. Yet, God promises that the outstretched arms of His Son are more than enough to bridge that great divide.
The Bible plainly confirms this truth: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9, NIV)
Forgiveness rushes in like a balm to our souls, allowing us to bask in the liberty a relationship with Christ provides. Forgiveness is such an extravagant gift. However, it comes with great responsibility. If we seek the Father’s forgiveness, He always promises to forgive His children, but He also expects us to be just as quick to forgive.
There’s the rub. We desperately want to be shown grace, but when it comes to extending that same grace to others, we’re quick to dole out judgement instead of the mercy Jesus desires us to reciprocate. With so many viewpoints at war in today’s society, it’s easy to focus on the things that divide us. It’s easy to point fingers and hurl insults. It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that differing opinions equal differing sides of the equation. It’s easy to desire revenge and far more difficult to turn the other cheek.
Christ never said forgiveness would be easy. If anything, it’s perhaps one of the hardest things we’ll ever do this side of eternity. Yet, He asks us to never forget the sacrifice He made that covers all sins.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another,” He commands, “forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32, NIV)
He extends forgiveness so that we’ll give it away to others. And it’s in that exchange where we find true freedom. Just like anything else He bestows upon His children, forgiveness is a lavish gift we don't deserve. Yet, the Giver gives it away freely and often. And He invites us to do the same.
"You look at me, arms open / Forgiven, Forgiven / Child, there is freedom / From all of it / Say goodbye to every sin / You are forgiven"
“Forgiven,” by Crowder
devotional by Lindsay Williams