For a while, I have asked a number of my coworkers about forgiveness. Being a supervisor, I am always aware of my role as having “authority.” As such, the first reaction was “Why, what have I done now?” I fully understand their reaction. There are times in my life when I find myself mired in the need to be forgiven. It is not a comfortable place into which I put myself.
Once I explained to my coworkers there was nothing wrong, they were more willing to share. I asked them which was more difficult–to ask to be forgiven or to forgive someone else. The answers I received were varied but followed a basic theme. (I did tell them I might use their responses here but would not include any identifiers. Actually, one person said I could include one part of her history or her answer would not make any sense. You will see that in a bit.)
Here are some of the responses:
- I would rather forgive. Makes me feel pretty good about myself.
- Forgiveness is easier. I just want to move on.
- I cannot remember the last time I had to be forgiven so I will say giving forgiveness. (That was not a surprise with this person.)
- I like to ask forgiveness from my children. It teaches them something, but of course only when I have really wronged them.
- I was raised in Puerto Rico and it did not seem to be much of an issue there. No one thought they were better than anyone else. We tried to keep our relationships on a level plain. Here in the U.S. it is different. No one wants to admit they are ever wrong. Believing you are always right, no matter what the facts say, seems to be a reality in which many want to live.
When the person from Puerto Rico answered as she did, I wanted to disagree. But for once I held my tongue. Thinking back, my protest may have proven her correct. Looking at the other responses, I think she has a point.
I think of news stories, the newspaper articles, the interviews on the radio and I hear defense after defense of some action or words spoken. A number of famous athletes, movie stars and politicians seem to believe that trouble and dissension are always the fault of someone else. To admit they could have made a mistake may mean to ask for forgiveness and that appears to be just too difficult to own. If I wanted proof of how the worker from Puerto Rico believes, these are perfect examples.
And then there is me. I have done my share of asking to be forgiven in my life. As a person, I have plenty of shortcomings and character defects, as the 12 Step programs define them. I know they are sins. And for me to try to say I have no sins is impossible.
I am not talking about being sinful. All humans are born with sin and although forgiven, we cannot get away from our sinful nature. This seems easy to admit. I see sin all around me both in myself and others in this world. Certainly, I was guilty when I was born. I was sinful when my mother conceived me. Psalm 51:5.
My ongoing sins are more difficult to accept. These are what I say and do, which hurt others. When someone comes to me, or when I become aware I sinned against someone, I have to admit what I did and ask for forgiveness. Often I confess but do not look for the forgiveness. Neither are easy to do but both are necessary.
More importantly, I need to regularly confess my sins to God. I read in 1 John 1: 8-10 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. There it is: to deny my sin is a lie. While it may be difficult to admit, I am lying to myself and to God if I try to ignore my sin.
And how does God respond to my confession? Forgiveness. He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I will be forgiven because of the suffering and death of Jesus who paid for all of my sin. That is grace.
And if I refuse to see my sin, if I think I am good enough on my own to be set right with God, verse 10 brings to light the real truth. If we say we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar, and his Word is not in us. Bottom line is this: Those who have saving faith know they sin and ask for and receive forgiveness. Those without faith believe they do not sin and have no need for Jesus or his saving work.
I am forever thankful for the faith with which I am blessed. It tells me I am sinful but Jesus paid for all of my sins. I also hurt for those people I know who have no faith and believe they do not need the Savior in their life.
I believe that the words I am lead to write here are meant to point out areas of change; not in others but rather in me. I can better reach out and share what I know to be true about sin and forgiveness with those who not believe. I can tell them about Jesus.
Forgive or be forgiven. Both a part of living in a world which is full of sin. Both can be difficult, but both are necessary. I am just thankful I have Jesus to give me the strength to do both.
I hope you can come back to read more about my journey through this life. I will wait you.
Just love the message in this song. Reminds me of an important part of my relationship with God.