Forgiven to Forgive

One of my favorite computer functions is the “undo” function. Whenever I’m in the middle of typing an email, or even an article like this, each time I make a mistake I’m grateful for the power of the “undo” function. The function has saved me countless hours of correcting mistakes. I can’t imagine the headache of what it used to be like when on a typewriter a critical mistake was committed and one had no correcting tape and no white-out. Do you ever wish you could have an “undo” function for life?

Such as, you make a mistake, you say the wrong thing, you make the wrong choice, etc. And at the press of a button you get another shot. In this petition of the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:12, Jesus tells us about a spiritual “undo” button, and how it works. You don’t press a physical button but because of Jesus, your mistakes, your poor choice of words, your very sins against God Himself can be forgiven by the God of all Creation.

The prince of preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon of the 19th century wrote, “There is mercy for a sinner, but there is no mercy for the man who will not own himself a sinner.” We cannot come to the beauty of heaven and right standing with God in any other way than in asking God for forgiveness. We are not born perfect, nor sinless, nor even in neutrality before God. We are in dire need of God’s transformative grace from inception. Yet, unless we own our status as the unrighteous sinner in need of God’s free grace, we will never be forgiven or receive His mercy. Instead, we will persist in spiritual blindness with no love to God or even His Christ. What Jesus has shown us to be the solution is simple, but at the same time impossible by our own strength.

What is it that we must do? We must own our sin and failure to keep God’s law, acknowledge our failure, and ask God to forgive us, for the sake of Christ, and what He’s done in our place. We must confess Him as the Lord and Ruler of our life in every detail. This is the heart of the Gospel or good news of Jesus Christ. We look back at what Jesus has done, and look forward through what Jesus is doing in us by His Word and Spirit. The Apostle Paul tells us that Jesus loved us and gave Himself for us on the cross because there was no other way for us to be made right with God (cf. Galatians 2:20). Nothing we do can earn our right standing with God or forgiveness for our sins, only the work of Jesus Christ in our place as our substitution. Why will God grant you the forgiveness of sins, everlasting righteousness and eternal salvation? Only because of Christ, not you, not me, not my will, not your desires, not our good works, only the perfect life and obedience of Jesus Christ. In short, God will accept you into heaven when you can acknowledge and have a hearty trust in Christ so that you proclaim truly and whole-heartedly, “Jesus died for me.”

There is a command that comes with this grace. If God has really forgiven you, then you must forgive others. Jesus writes, “if you do not forgive others their trespasses [sins], neither will your Father forgive your trespasses [sins].” (Matthew 6:15 ESV) God has forgiven us of the eternal atrocities of our sins, so that His church can be a forgiving people in the midst of an unforgiving world. You see, your actions are going to show the world who you really are: Are you graceful because you have received full pardon through the blood of Jesus Christ? Or are you petty and grudging, unforgiving even, because you know nothing of the love of Christ? Be like Jesus, give freely what you’ve received freely and see the power of God transform your life. Ask God for the strength to be like Him, even amidst the most undeserving.

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