I read something last night that got me thinking about grace, and particularly grace as manifested by forgiveness. Because, of course, if forgiveness were not necessary, grace—“love stooping low”—good things for those who don’t deserve them—wouldn’t be needed.
When the son came back, shamefaced, to his father, with the offer of becoming a hired servant, the father didn’t confront him with a stern look, and say, “You’re quite right. Since you squandered your inheritance, I can’t afford your upkeep, and I certainly can’t afford a welcome-home party. Have you any idea how expensive fatted calves are? Off to the fields with you. I forgive you, of course, but you must learn that there are consequences to your licentious behaviour”.
The father was embracing him. He was calling for a robe and a ring. He was ordering a party and he was getting that calf killed.
The son didn’t need to be reminded that there are consequences to sin. He already knew that! He didn’t need the father to add to his burden of guilt. It was weighing him down enough. He needed him, in grace, to forgive him, so that the burden wasn’t there anymore. The story is a wonderful story because… that’s what the father did.
And that’s what God does with us.
When we come to God and repent, He doesn’t hold up the list of all that we’ve done wrong and remind us of it—you know, rub it in a little bit so we’ll be sure not to forget just how bad we’ve been.
When Jesus died, He tore up the paper with its ugly list of our sins.
The paper got thrown to the winds.
Our sins, on the other hand, got cast into the depths of the sea.
He doesn’t remind us of them and He doesn’t remind Himself of them. The only thing that the omniscient God forgets is our sin.
And because we have been forgiven, we forgive others.
In that grace-filled, sin-covering, burden-lifting way.
The person who’s wronged you doesn’t need you to drive home a moral point, or remind them of the consequences of their actions.
They already know all that!
They need your forgiveness. They need grace.
I’m writing so high above me in all this. I don’t understand or appreciate or rejoice in God’s grace to me anything like I should. The hard, dry soil of my heart needs Him to keep pouring water for a long time yet before it can soften, before it can truly soak in grace. And I sure as anything haven’t got the extending grace to others—the true forgiveness—sorted out in my life.
And, really, it’s not until we understand God’s grace to us that we can truly extend grace to others….
His grace is abundant—water splashing down on us.
Let it soak in.