Lent Devotional: Approaching Forgiveness

by Julie Clark

Forgiveness is a vital part of our relationship with God and a vital part of peacemaking.

We know this because Jesus included the following words in what we call The Lord’s Prayer:

 

Read Matthew 6:12, 14-15

These are strong words. How do we do this? Before we can truly forgive and be forgiven we need to push past our shame. Shame keeps our sins buried and locked away in the murky recesses of our hearts. The Holy Spirit’s conviction says, "I have done wrong" while shame says, "I am a bad person." But Jesus took our shame - all of it - when he went to his death. He took it, and he wants us to let go of it.

The word sin has to do with missing the mark. What if we thought of sin as missing the mark of God’s perfect love and of faith? I think that may help us to throw off some of our shame. I have missed the mark many times, and until I am face to face with Jesus I will miss it many more times. I don’t want to, but I'm still growing. Every time I miss the mark I have another opportunity to grow and be transformed by God’s love and power.

What if our confessions to God and one another sounded more like this?:

“Yes, I missed the mark of love and of faith when I didn't trust you, God, and gave in to fear and anxiety. Please forgive me.”

“Yes (friend, sister or brother), I missed the mark of love and faith when I judged you. Please forgive me.”

Though Jesus took our shame, dealing with the sin in our lives like this is imperative, because when we have unconfessed sin it blocks our access to the abundant life Jesus offers us (John 10:10, 1 John 1:9, 10).

 

Now read Luke 7:36-50 (especially 47)

Who loves the most? The one who has been forgiven the most!

Spend a few moments in prayer confessing anything you need to regarding areas where you have missed the mark of His perfect love and of faith.

Now, when we have been forgiven and covered in God’s grace, we are able to love and forgive those who have missed the mark of God’s perfect love and of faith in their dealings with us. We can have empathy towards them because we know we have also missed the mark with others many times. God has forgiven us; now we can forgive others.

Spend a few moments forgiving those who have missed the mark with you.

Now let’s thank God for the riches of His gift of forgiveness!

Dear Father, thank you for this gift of forgiveness. Thank you that you forgive all my sin when I miss the mark of perfect love and of faith. Thank you that I in turn can forgive those who have hurt me by missing the mark. May forgiveness and peace abound in my life and in all the world. Amen.