Posted by Dr. Wade Smith on February 25, 2014
Good morning Norman! As you read this devotion I am finishing up a week of ministry in Cuba with Reaching Souls International. Over the past week I have had the opportunity to preach and see firsthand the work of pastors and churches in Cuba. We have talked about the need and importance of forgiveness in our lives and in our world.
When you think about it forgiveness is an offensive concept? It’s offensive because it acknowledges a standard of right and wrong. The New Testament word “sin” helps us to understand this juxtaposition. Sin is the picture of an archer aiming at a target and “missing the mark.” The scripture affirms that we all miss the mark. We sin against God, we sin against ourselves, and we sin against each other. As such, we hurt others and others hurt us. The pain and consequences of sin mark us physically, relationally, and emotionally. Sins deadly sting never leaves us in peace, but lingers and gnaws and destroys a little more each day.
So, what are we to do? Is there any relief? Yes! We find help and healing through forgiveness.
There are two sides of forgiveness. First, we need to be forgiven. We have sinned against God and His intentions for life and relationship with Him and with others. Our sin has caused pain, grief, and death. We are guilty and because of our guilt we are dying on the inside and outside. God’s forgiveness through Jesus, however, frees us from the guilt of our sin. He took the eternal consequences of our sin upon Himself, freeing us to find new life and second chances in Him.
Second, we must forgive. We have all been the victim of someone else’s sin. We are wounded and scarred. Revenge, bitterness, anger, hatred and the like churn within. Our scars remain sensitive and our churnings too heavy to carry. If we don’t find relief, they will eventually fulfill their purpose in us: death. So, Jesus instructs us to forgive. We forgive because we have been forgiven. We forgive because it liberates us. We forgive so that others might find redemption as well.
Forgiveness does not minimize sin or encourage victimization by refusing to confront wrongful actions. On the contrary, forgiveness takes sin seriously and recognizes sins devastating impact. But, where sin and death would linger, forgiveness offers healing and new life. Forgiveness brings cleansing, lifts burdens, renews our spirit, and vanquishes guilt. Joy and gladness return to broken places when we embark on the path of forgiveness.
This week Cuban pastors have considered the path of forgiveness. And you? In reading this you’ve encountered forgiveness on your path today. Will you receive its cleansing power? Will you offer forgiveness and give up the burden you carry? Forgiveness is calling. In fact, to not answer the call of forgiveness is, shall we say, to miss the mark.