"'Forgive and you’ll be forgiven'. – Jesus. When you don’t forgive, it means you think that person needs to jump through a certain amount of hoops first, so when you ask Jesus for forgiveness, it’ll be hard for you to believe you are forgiven, because you didn’t have to jump through hoops, then you’ll start thinking that His grace wasn’t sufficient enough, so you’ll start trying to jump through hoops that you made up, then expecting everyone else to as well."
"The funny thing is that you can never earn forgiveness. Even in a secular sense of the word. If I owed you ten bucks, but I couldn’t afford it, you’d have to forgive it. If I paid it, you wouldn’t be able to forgive me, because I wouldn’t need it anymore. Forgiveness is filling in the blank of where someone falls short."
- Isaac Deitz (taken from They're with Me, Dec 6th)
Though forgiveness was not really the point of his post, these two passages really stood out to me. This is what you call conviction. I'm a prisoner of my unforgiveness. Lord, help me. I hoard up all these little offenses. I stockpile them for WW3. (Ironically, the stockpiling is what actually causes the war, which creates the "need". I have my own little supply and demand circle going on here.) I use them as barriers, defense mechanisms, justification.
And what to they provide for me? Security, personal safety, peace? No, my hoarding breeds bitterness, anger, and resentment. It isolates me from the ones I love and the One who loves me. (And if you've ever seen an episode of "Hoarders: Buried Alive", you'll notice the resemblance this kind of hoarding has with actual physical hoarding- isolation. More irony.)
Always in the past, when I reach this point of conviction, I simply apply a patch. I do what I know to do. I "forgive" and "forget" (quotation marks on purpose). I read and pray. I move on.
But this time, something's different. Something has to be different. I can't even muster up the conviction to unwrap a band-aid. I don't even want to. I want the real deal. I want true healing. I want to bare my ugliness to the One who made me (not like this, but He did make me), to the One who continues to save me. If he bore it all, if he saved me while I was in the very act of sinning, then my ugliness is no threat to him. There's no reason to hide.
And this is where grace enters- when I don't know how to trust in myself anymore, when I don't have the desire to even try to cover up my mess, when I rank #1 on the Undeserving List- this is when I recognize grace, this is when I accept forgiveness fom my Father, this is when I cannot withhold it from my husband, my neighbor, my mother, my friend.
Unkindness is repaid with kindness, ill-will with goodwill.
Gossip is repaid with kind words, rejection with tenderness.
Judgement is repaid with gentleness, offense with openness.
Grace and Forgiveness. You can't accept one without the other. You can't extend one without the other.
Grace and Forgiveness. Inexorably tied together. Now I understand why.
"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight..."
(Ephesians 1:7-8 ESV)
"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God... " Ephesians 2:4-8 ESV
He has already set us free! May we receive the grace to live in this reality...