Nov 21, 2021, 11:50:08 AM11/21/21
A number of current threads relate to sin, culpability and forgiveness.
Independent of those, I was recently invited to contribute something to
a local Methodist magazine. I've not sent it yet, but this is my first
draft. Any comments welcome, but I'm not starting an argument! ;-)
Like most Christians, I try regularly to admit my sins and sinfulness to
God, asking for forgiveness. So I found myself in a face-off with Him
the other day.
I was saying, “I’m sorry that I failed to do X, but I was interrupted by
that phone call, and the need to urgently reply to Sarah’s request,
which took longer than I expected, and so I forgot!” ….. Silence! ….
Longer silence!! …. “Er! Are you there?”
I sensed God replying, “Yes! You were saying…?”
“I’d said, ‘I’m sorry, Lord!’“
“You may feel ‘sorry’ but you haven’t accepted responsibility – I don’t
forgive ‘feelings of regret’! I’m also fully aware of your excuses –
indeed, you spend more time telling me your excuses and very little
acknowledging your own wrong doing.
“In this case, after you failed to do what you promised, you still found
time to shop for a couple of items you’d been hankering after, which
weren’t at all urgent – or even necessary!
“You see, I don’t forgive ‘excuses’ – if they are genuine, I’ve already
taken them into account. If they’re not, you are only compounding your
sin by trying to lie to ME! Do get real – and you’ll find me far more
generous than you can imagine!”
That made me realise how poor I am at really accepting my own sin – I’ve
always got an excuse – God probably knows more excuses that I could even
think of. But the real problem is that I spend more time confessing my
excuses than admitting my own culpability. God gives us the grace to
recognise our own wrongdoing, but we then have to take full
responsibility for it, and nail it to the foot of the Cross so that it
can be forgiven. Then God can deal with it and set us free.
‘Excuses’ are entirely ours to deal with. Offering them to God is
usually an attempt to hide our own wrongdoing, and so fails to free us.
All God wants is a contrite heart and a firm resolve to do better next
time. Then we are open to the power of the Holy Spirit to be God’s
instrument in this world.
In short we are reminded of this every time we say the Lord’s Prayer –
“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against
us!” But do we sincerely mean it? Have we really let go of all the
hurt and disappointment they may have caused us?
So who have you really forgiven lately? I find that asking myself,
“Will I rejoice when I meet them in heaven?”, also brings home whether
I’ve really let go.