Psalm 32:5 Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the LORD.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. Interlude I read this verse and paused at the Interlude. I’ve always kind of ignored them in the past, but this time I got a great image in my head… Imagine David, with relief and joy, singing this Psalm and getting to the part about all his guilt being gone. What does he do in this interlude? The happy dance!!! I can totally see King David doing a dance for joy, like my little 2-year-old when his favorite song comes on. He is so excited and overwhelmed by the relief forgiveness and cleansing brings. Love it! When was the last time you danced for joy?
Psalm 24: 3-4 Who may climb the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies. Wow, this is a tall order. There are a lot of days (okay, most days) when I feel like I’m totally unworthy to be in God’s presence. I make the same mistakes over and over and over and over again. I have trouble forgiving people for what they’ve done to me or those I love. I am afraid for the future. I am angry with my situation. I am a mess. I am SO not holy. David Loveless addressed this in our church service a couple weeks ago when he spoke about spending time with God. I tend to view God’s ability to forgive on my own ability to forgive. And I base God’s ability to forget sin on my ability to forget sin. Obviously, there’s a flaw here. I am imperfect and am not blessed with the ability to forget on command. I usually forget the things I want to remember and remember the things I want to forget. But God’s not like that. He says that when He forgives He forgets our sin. He can’t see it and He doesn’t replay it. So every time we have to go back and ask for forgiveness He doesn’t ask, “Look, didn’t you just do this same thing yesterday? What’s wrong with you?” Instead, He simply forgives us because He’s forgotten the last time we did it and asked for forgiveness. He forgets, even when we can’t. That to me is mind boggling. Because I can’t do it, it’s hard to fathom and to grasp that God does that. I can keep track of each time I stop trusting God and freak out about situations. But after forgiving me, God erases the board (and He’s got a great eraser – doesn’t leave marks or traces) and there’s nothing to add to anymore. That is awesome. It’s the only way I can ever be allowed into His presence. If He remembered all the sins I did, I’d never be as white as snow. It’d be a dingy gray. Jesus is like Tide with Stain Release (or whatever works best). Once I ask God’s forgiveness, the stain’s gone and I’m clean again. I’m wearable. I’m usable. I can finally stand in front of Him and worship Him. I like that!
Romans 16:25 God is able to make you strong, just as the Good News says. It is the message about Jesus Christ and his plan for you Gentiles, a plan kept secret from the beginning of time. I’m thankful that God can make me strong because there are so many areas where I need strength today and every day. Today I need strength to forgive and to love because I’m dealing with a situation where I’m expected to put someone first by someone who isn’t doing the very thing I’m supposed to do. Confused? That’s okay. I’m just being a mom trying to protect her cubs. Sigh. I’m thankful for this situation because it’s making me more patient, and because when we finally have our own home, there are so many many things I will be grateful for.
Romans 13:10 Love does no wrong to anyone, so love satisfies all of God’s requirements. Love. It pretty much sums up the entire Bible and all of Christianity in one word. Not that Christ followers are always very good at loving others. Clearly that’s not true or we wouldn’t have a somewhat tarnished reputation (tele-evangelists anyone?). Christ followers are human and therefore, flawed. But we are all called to love the people around us. That’s not always as easy as it seems. There are a lot of people in this world that it’s really, really hard to love. Like that woman at work who lied about what she did, blaming you for it. Or the husband who cheated on his wife. Or the child molester or murderer. (I struggle here, especially since I have children.) No matter who the person is, no matter what he or she has done, we are called to love. We aren’t called to love what he or she DID or DOES. We are called to love the PERSON. Jesus doesn’t love our actions. More often than not, they hurt Him. However, He loves us more than words could ever say. And that is the point of it all.
Matthew 6:15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. I have more questions. (Doesn’t it seem like I have more of those than answers?!) Anyway, it says (Jesus says) that if I don’t forgive others then God won’t forgive me. Does that mean every tiny little offense, even if I’m not aware of it’s need of forgiveness, even if things get worked out and I’m not upset with that person any more, even if no one asks for forgiveness, I must say “I forgive you” explicitly? Is it something that I must do consciously? Is it something that happens when the problem is resolved and done? Or does Jesus mean that if I refuse to forgive someone who’s asked me to forgive them? When I was younger we were required to ask “would you forgive me” after every offense (which if I remembered to do this now would probably drive people around me nuts). (I suppose that’s what pardon me or excuse me means, too, though they seem less specific.) I don’t ask people to forgive me very often. I do with my husband if I’ve driven him nuts, and I’ve done it a couple of times with students if I’ve hurt their feelings. But usually, I just say that I’m sorry. It’s the same with most people I know. They say they’re sorry, I say “no worries” and we all move on. Does that mean I’ve forgiven them or not? In my mind it’s forgiven, but I haven’t said “I forgive you” to them or out loud or something. Having to say specific words seems like a formula, which to me feels fake and legalistic. I don’t know. If I have to say some magic words to forgive someone, then there are probably tons of people that I haven’t “officially” forgiven. Not because I specifically don’t want to, but because I never said the words or specifically thought of it that way. So, does that mean that God won’t forgive me for the things I do now? Can a person do a blanket forgiveness for any past offenses not already forgiven? Are we all going to hell in a hand-basket because most people I know don’t forgive me to my face (probably because I forgot to ask)? I’m confused. If you have any thoughts or comments on this, please feel free to say so below.
Romans 7:19 When I want to do good, I don’t. And when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway. This sounds like Paul was having one of those days where no matter how hard he tried, he just couldn’t do it right. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been to try to explain these concepts for the first time. Although, since it’s God-inspired it might not have been as hard as I think. Regardless of how it was written, this is one of those passages that people read, and then reread, and then scratch their head and reread, to try and get the point. The Blue Letter Bible actually puts each verse on its own line, which is annoying sometimes, but in this case is really helpful because I can read each verse of this sometimes confusing passage individually, helping me make more sense of it. In some ways it sounds like Paul’s saying, “It’s not my fault!” But he clearly acknowledges his sinful nature’s role in poor decision making. Heaven knows I feel this way sometimes, when everything I do seems to be the wrong thing… or when I know what the right thing to do is, but don’t do it. For example, where I work it’s very easy to speak negatively about things, and even though I know that’s not the right thing to do, I often get sucked into that negativity because of my frustration with things. So, I know the right thing to do, but don’t do it. Sigh. Thankfully, God is merciful and oh, so patient! So, every time I mess up (again) He forgives me, and I can try again.
Matthew 9:10-13 Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” This portion is from David Guzik’s commentary on Matthew 9: Many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him: We are fortunate that God calls sinners, not just “saints.” Jesus came to benefit those who understood their inherit need for Him (those who are sick, the poor in spirit, Matthew 5:3), but the proud who see no need for Jesus (Those who are well) benefit nothing from Jesus. i. It isn’t our sin that keeps us from coming to Jesus, but our pride that refuses to acknowledge our need before Him. I thought this was really insightful! Jesus accepted tax collectors and the rejects of Israeli society. He called the lowest and healed the sickest (and the dead – and you can’t get much lower than that). He sought out the people who were sinful and who needed forgiveness and love. He didn’t seek out the people who were clean and pretty and proper. I know it’s easy to think that if I’ve made mistakes that Jesus couldn’t possibly want or allow me in His presence. But that’s not how He operated when He was here. He knows my need for forgiveness and is eager for my black and sinful self to come to Him for help. It’s my pride that keeps me from coming. It’s not easy to admit I’m wrong, and it’s hard to look at the things I’ve done that I know are wrong. And Satan doesn’t help the matter because he loves to rub all that in and puff up our pride to think we don’t need forgiveness. It’s encouraging to know that Jesus didn’t keep company that was all pristine and pretty. He wasn’t afraid of getting dirty, and He loved the people that needed Him the most. I’m incredibly thankful that Jesus wasn’t afraid to stoop down and love me and forgive me, despite the messes I’ve made in my life.