Forgiveness

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I didn’t get any of my wedding cake! I don’t like rich fruit cake, so although that was what our main 3 tier wedding cake was, we had a special chocolate cake made as well! But… The person handing out the chocolate cake never gave me any 😔. I was told it was delicious, but I wouldn’t know because I DIDN’T GET ANY!!!!! As you can tell, 11 years on, I still haven’t quite managed to move on from the situation.

Have you ever held a grudge? I imagine we all have at some point in time, it may have been something silly like NOT GETTING ANY WEDDING CAKE or it may be something much more serious. As we approach Easter we start to discover a couple of the more substantial, life-changing promises that God gives us. Today’s is that God doesn’t hold a grudge, because of God we can be forgiven. The promise is in the first letter of John and says

But if we confess our sins to him, he can be depended on to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong. And it is perfectly proper for God to do this for us because Christ died to wash away our sins.

On the cross, Jesus was crucified between two criminals. We are not told what their crimes had been, but we can assume it was major. One of the criminals on the cross recognised who Jesus was, and although we don’t hear that he actually verbally asked for forgiveness, I think that through that recognition, in his heart, he recognised what he had done wrong and he said sorry for it. Jesus then said that he would see him in heaven.

As with many things in Christianity this idea can be misunderstood. Some people think that this allows anybody to do anything. But that is not the case. There needs to be a recognition from a person, that they have done something wrong. Normally whenever a child gets told off, their automatic reaction is “I’m Sorry”. But quite often, that is all it is, it is an automatic reaction, not actually said with any meaning or understanding.

Yes God can and will forgive anything, after all there is no sin that is bigger or smaller than any other, but it has to be asked for; you can’t really ask for forgiveness, and therefore be forgiven, if, actually, you don’t really know you’ve done anything wrong.

In the story of Jonah, he is sent to Nineveh to tell the people to turn away from their wicked ways, otherwise God will smite them. The people of Nineveh took those words on board, they declared a period of fasting, and wore sackcloth. Whilst this was happening Jonah went up on to a local hill so he could watch the smiting take place, he was quite looking forward to it – afterall it was what they deserved. But God was true to his word, they had turned away, so he did not smite them. Jonah was not happy.

Because we are forgiven it doesn’t mean that we can just do anything, knowing that we can just say sorry for it after. It means we can try to make amends for what we have done, but it must also mean that we can try not to do those things in the first place.

A sin is ANYTHING that separates us from God. Therefore we are not going to live sin free lives. But we can try to, and we can recognise when we do those things, and we can ask God’s forgiveness, and we will be forgiven.

Afterall the promise says it is perfectly proper for God to do this for us because Christ died to wash away our sin. God knew that we would make mistakes, and that is why he came to earth as Christ and died on the cross. That does not mean that we shouldn’t try to avoid making mistakes in the first place though.

God doesn’t hold a grudge, as with the people of Nineveh, they then moved on in their relationship with God. Therefore, as we have been forgiven, we should also forgive. That doesn’t mean that we have to accept any wrong that is done to us, but we should accept apologies, and we should move on with our relationships. We should not keep holding that one event against that person. I have made a decision whilst writing this blog that I am never going to mention the wedding cake again!!!!! Forgiving others, is a very difficult topic and I imagine that requires a whole blog just for that! But what I want you to take away from this is that if you recognise what you have done wrong, and you acknowledge that and ask God, he WILL forgive you, because Jesus died for that reason. WOW! I know I say this every week, but what an awesome promise!

Prayer: Father God, we thank you that Christ died so that we may be forgiven and reunited with you. We thank you that you forgive us, but we pray that we will not take to mean we have an excuse to do anything but that we will try to live lives that are worthy of you. Amen

Challenge: Spend some time with saying sorry but also thanking him that we can go to him when we do wrong. Think about if there is anyone that you still hold a grudge against – try to let it go.

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