Sorry Enough

Jesus began his ministry on earth with a call to repent. The recognition of our sin and turning away from it toward God is the beginning of our salvation by grace through faith. Confession is certainly important, but there are those who say you must “fully repent” in order to be saved. But how sorry is sorry enough?

I have seen this many times in the church and especially within my family. Someone will refuse to extend grace and forgiveness because another has not properly demonstrated repentance. They separate themselves from each other in order to protect their self image. They don’t want to be known as someone who tolerates sin.

I am not saying that God tolerates sin; but Jesus never separated himself from sinners for fear of what others might say. He never made sure that people knew he did not approve of their sin. He extended grace and love again and again before the sinner could even utter a word of repentance. The father ran to his son with arms open while he was still a long way off.

I do not mean to take grace lightly. I also believe that whenever God reveals an area in our lives we have not surrendered to him, we need to let it go. But to think that I have to reach a certain level of repentance in order to receive grace is ridiculous. Can I ever fully identify with the sadness and pain that my sin inflicts on God? To enforce “full repentance” on others is to withhold the very grace God has given us. Even worse, it affects our view of God as we begin to think we need to earn his grace and forgiveness. Jesus has already paid the price for our lives. Let us not hold anyone back from receiving the gift he freely gives.

This is only a short summary of some of my thoughts on this issue. Whether you agree or disagree, I would love to continue this conversation with you.

In the Land of the Living

After king Hezekiah was healed by God of a deathly sickness, he recorded a prayer including this portion:

Behold, it was for my welfare that I had great bitterness; but in love you have delivered my life from the pit of destruction, for you have cast all my sins behind your back. For Sheol does not thank you; death does not praise you; those who go down to the pit do not hope for your faithfulness. The living, the living, he thanks you, as I do this day; the father makes known to the children your faithfulness. The LORD will save me, and we will play my music on stringed instruments all the days of our lives, at the house of the LORD.

I am so thankful for the grace of God that is healing me of this deathly sinful nature. In His love, He has delivered me from the pit of destruction and cast all my sins behind His back. This is the amazing news of the gospel: Christ in us, the hope of glory. He desires to have a living relationship with me. He has invited me to commune with Him in this life and the one to come, and I will forever praise His name. But I am only able to declare His name to others on this side of heaven. Only in this life can I proclaim His greatness to those who have not seen or heard. I am reminded and challenged to make use of every opportunity to bring glory to God’s name as long as I have breath.

 

Forgive Yourself

It is commonly suggested that a person must learn how to forgive themselves. But can we actually do that? Only God has the power to forgive sins. So what does this phrase actually mean? We are held back by expectations and contingencies that we place on ourselves. We stubbornly refuse to accept God’s forgiveness and vainly strive to win His approval on our own. Not only does this lead us to further depravity, but it demonstrates our lack of faith. Oh if we would only believe that God is and does what He said He is and will do! He promised that there is no condemnation for those who are in Him and are called according to His purposes. Lord, we believe – help us in our unbelief!

Scars

I scar easily. A small cut or scrape leaves a permanent mark, embedding memories of accidents or mistakes on my skin. But my proclivity to prolong memories of negative incidents extends beyond my physical conditions. I have a tendency to hold grudges. While those grudges may not affect my behavior on a day-to-day basis, I am still prone to outbursts of anger or sadness as I recall what I had experienced. Leviticus chapter 13 contains a list of treatments for various skin diseases. Verse 28 says that “if the spot [from a boil] remains in one place and does not spread in the skin, but has faded, it is a swelling from the burn, and the priest shall pronounce him clean, for it is the scar of the burn.” This passage seems to convey that scars indicate cleanliness, or freedom from a previous condition. In the Jewish culture, this meant that the person could now return to the community. A proclamation of cleanliness is a topic of celebration, not dismal remembrance. My scars should cause me to rejoice in my Savior!