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Yes, Even Dum-Dums Are Forgiven ~ Grace & Such
Whenever I think about forgiveness, at least lately, two things come to mind. First, I know that if I’m a follower of Jesus, He will be known by my love of others, and forgiveness is under that ‘love of others’ umbrella (ugh). And second, nothing is impossible with God—which is a darn good thing—because for me, forgiving even the tiniest of offences goes against my (sinful nature) grain. I’m not shoulding all over myself, but rather just speaking truth when I say what ought to come to mind is a sense of overwhelming gratitude for all the times the Lord has saved my bacon by forgiving me. I mean, I wouldn’t be going to Heaven or even be able to call myself a Christian, had Jesus (through his death on the cross) not forgiven me before I was even born! Alas, the Holy Spirit is working on this chick, and I’m getting there. Perhaps by the time I go to Heaven I’ll be super good and natural at forgiving. I hope so. Because it’s truly one of the most important things if not THE most important thing Jesus taught us how to do while He was here, and continues to be paramount, because His character doesn’t change whether He’s walking the earth or sitting at the right hand of His Father in Heaven. [pullquote width=”300″ float=”right”][/pullquote]A third thing comes to mind as I ponder how I’m forgiven and asked to forgive others. Admittedly, this is not an immediate thought (I’m trying, Lord), but it’s one that makes me so glad I read my Bible (not throwing shade to those who don’t, but c’mon, now), and that’s the many examples I’ve read about folks who came before me who messed up beyond belief, but were never too far from the heart of God’s forgiveness. The catch? They had to humble themselves under his mighty hand and ASK for forgiveness. Have you ever had to ask a friend or spouse or child for forgiveness? Saying those words kinda tastes like vinegar, right? Just me? I think it’s meant to—as a reminder that sin is, well, icky. When we ask for forgiveness, we are sharing with the wronged party that we agree with them that we did wrong and are trying to turn this ship around to do right again. It’s exactly what confession and repentance is when we ask God for forgiveness. He KNOWS we mess up. He knows that we need Him to make things right again. What He waits upon is our agreement that we’ve fallen short, and our humility to ask for another chance and another and another and another. Can I just say? Humility is hard work, man. Back to the examples. Here are just three. King David was a murderer and a cheat, and he’s often referred to as God’s beloved—and a man after God’s own heart. Really? Yes. Because he turned back to God and admitted what a loser he was, and asked for forgiveness. Boom. Clean slate. Saul of Tarsus was a murderer of Christians. After his meeting with Jesus, he repented of his heinous acts, and sought the Lord’s help in changing His heart. Thereafter, he was not only forgiven, he was known as Paul, and became one of the most prolific writers of the Bible and missionary for Jesus’ message. And by golly, let’s not forget about that dum-dum, Peter. Of all the people Jesus forgave, it took me a long time to understand why he would forgive Peter. Peter totally denied that he knew Jesus, not once, but 3 times before Jesus was crucified. This wouldn’t necessarily seem so egregious to me, but he was one of Jesus’ very best friends. What? Who does that?! I do. I, too often, play it safe when I have every opportunity to talk about how Jesus has given me new life and adopted me, flaws and all into His family. Know what that is? That’s denying Him. Because if I were as utterly gobsmacked as Paul and Peter were at God’s saving, forgiving grace, people would not only know Him by the life I live, but by the words I say. When I don’t speak out against things that grieve Jesus, I deny Him. I grieve Him. I’m the cheat and the dum-dum. When I don’t forgive easily and completely, it’s as if I’m allowing each of those nails to be driven into my Lord’s hands and feet. Know who didn’t repent? Judas Iscariot. What’s so sad is that I know Jesus loved Judas and even would have forgiven him, had Judas asked. But nothing I read says he asked. He died a horrible death after selling Jesus out for 30 pieces of silver, and I don’t believe I’ll be meeting him in heaven. I hope I’m wrong, but…That’s a very sobering reality to me. Either I ask for and receive forgiveness, or I don’t. I have been given the free will to decide. Thank you, Lord for your death on the cross which was so undeserved, and yet, so life-giving to me, a sinner, saved only by Your grace. Thank you for Your precious free will which saved me from certain separation and death, and gives me life eternal. Help me to be more like you each day and live unashamedly for You, Lord, I pray. Please forgive me and give me eyes to see when I fall short. Lastly, help me to forgive others quickly and completely, because You loved and forgave me first. In Jesus’ name. Amen. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. ~ John 13:35 NIV 9 “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation,[a] but deliver us from …