2000-06-14 - Accepting God's Forgiveness
Forgiveness, Part 4This is the final installment in my forgiveness series. We have looked at forgiving others, forgiving ourselves and asking God for forgiveness. Today we will look at accepting God's forgiveness.
This past Tuesday I went with my son's second-grade class on a field trip to the NC Zoo. The teacher divided up the students among us parents. I of course had my son Bobby, another boy and thank goodness, three sweet girls. The one boy (not my son) was simply out of control. He would not listen, ran all over the place, picked plants, threw things at the baboons and was simply not behaving very well.
When we all met back at the bus, the teacher asked me how my group had behaved. I told her all was well except the one boy. She was not very happy. Wednesday night the boy's mom called me. She said her son wanted to apologize for his behavior. He came on the line and was very contrite. He apologized for all his wrongs. I simply said, "I forgive you; please don't act like that again." But then he just kept on saying how sorry he was. I said again, "It's ok. Thanks for calling. You are forgiven." He repeated his remorseful apology. Finally I said, "Son, just accept my forgiveness and get on with life." The phone went silent, his mom came back on and I told her thanks. This eight-year-old boy had the same problem many of us have: We can't seem to fully accept God's forgiveness.
Three of the definitions of "acceptance" in the Encarta World English
Dictionary are as follows:
Encarta® World English Dictionary [North American Edition] © & (P) 1999-2000 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
1 John 1:9 (LB) 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.
God says a resounding yes when we ask for His forgiveness of our sins. The invitation is always open for us to accept His forgiveness. But those of us who have a hard time forgiving ourselves, also seem to have a hard time accepting God's forgiveness.
God's forgiveness is a gift to us. As the Encarta definition points out, acceptance means that we must be willing to receive that gift. The gift and payment are provided by Jesus' death on the cross for our sins -- not only the sins we committed in the past, but ALL sins, past, present and future.
Acceptance of God's forgiveness is an act of faith on our part. It takes faith in God to stop beating ourselves up. We sometimes feel we don't deserve to be forgiven, and that is true; none of us deserve it. The forgiveness is unmerited. It takes faith to start believing that He really does forgive us and love us unconditionally, no matter what we have done. Our God is a God of promises. He delights in making promises and keeping those promises. And in 1 John 1:9 we have the promise that He will forgive us if we ask for it.
Father, help us to understand your irrational and unconditional love for us. Help us to accept your forgiveness and move forward in our lives. Help us to grow closer to you. Give us the strength to move away from our sinful past and toward your Holiness. Thank you for having an offer of forgiveness waiting only for our asking and accepting. In the name of the Author and Perfector of our faith, Who bought our forgiveness with His blood, Jesus.