One disclaimer I will probably put on every post here is that I am not a pastor or have any professional theological background. Just a sinner striving for God and interpreting the Bible.
I went to church this last weekend for the first time in . . well . . . all summer, I think. The fact alone breaks my heart more than you know, but this visit to church is one that I will remember forever, and one that will probably take a few posts to talk about.
The Elevate service at my church is hands-down one of the main reasons I keep coming back to the church. I know that the song service will move my heart, the community will lift my spirits, and the sermon and its discussions will bring me back to God. And this week did not disappoint. The sermon was on Forgiveness, looking primarily at Psalms 51. As soon as I saw that what the title was, my heart sank. God knew. God knew i’d be at church this morning. He knew i’d be broken and desperate, but scared to admit. So He met me where I was at.
This process of true forgiveness is only as hard as our own pride lets it to be. Holding a grudge against someone really only affects you and your heart. Furthermore, refusing to honestly and wholeheartedly accept someone’s apology is just selfish. They are opening themselves up, admitting they were wrong, etc. Even after they’ve apologized, you may still be holding it against them out of pride — hurt that they hurt you, upset that you let yourself be vulnerable enough to be hurt, etc. But you gotta let that go. As humans, we are inherently doomed from the start with sin and pride. God gives us an out with His salvation and humility. It’s the humility — humility learned from God — that makes things like forgiveness towards our brothers and sisters — or even ourselves — easier.
The pastor then took us into 2 Samuel where we looked into David’s most famous sins: Bathesheba. This act of infidelity and basically murder was “evil in the sight of the Lord.” David’s pride and selfishness got the best of him in the worst way possible. David needed a prophet to parabolzie his situation and then spell things out for him before he realized what he had done. But it didn’t take long for David to come back to his knees, pouring his heart out to God, which brings us to Psalms 51.
We were asked as an audience, first among our separate tables and then collectively, to describe what feelings we felt when we read through David’s remorseful apology to God. I read through it, and skimmed it again, and each time I felt pangs of guilt. I felt ashamed, embarrassed, and sinful. David rounds out the psalm with uplifting and reassuring verses, but I still felt so small when reading what should bring us peace.
God doesn’t tally up our sins against each other; one sin is not greater than the other in God’s eyes. David committed some harmful sins, yes. But so do I. Moreover, over the last couple months, I have continually, and consciously, sinned directly against God and what I know to be right and true. So why am I not crying out on my knees like David when I sin? Why am I not begging God to purify my heart and create a new spirit within me when I make the worst decisions? Why do I think my sins aren’t enough to be forgiven?
The passage of Psalms 51:3-4 really resonated with me.
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
I wasn’t unaware of what I was doing or what the consequences would be. Rather, I was completely aware, in control, and I still continued down the path of destruction. My sins were always with me because I let them to be. I let them get in the way of my friendships or relationships, of my own growth, and, most importantly, of my own relationship with God. I chose to let my priorities get out of order.
My earnest prayer as I move forward, towards a closer, more focused relationship with God and God-centered outlook, is that I continually come to Him, just as David did. We are prone to sin, but that doesn’t mean it should be our hinderance. God’s forgiveness comes out the prideful hesitation, without the grudge holding, without anything holding it back. He gladly washes us clean, giving us a new heart, a new focus, and a new spirit.
Did you see that? God sees that we have openly sinned against Him and when we come back to His presence, He is WILLING and OVERJOYED to forgive us, to shower us with His salvation. I don’t know about you, but I am floored. We struggle to forgive our brother or sister for saying something unkind or doing us dirty (and I know we struggle to get over ourselves to trust forgive). But God doesn’t. God WANTS to forgive us. He WANTS to welcome us back and lead back to His will and way.
My goal for myself and for you is to have the remorseful heart of David, as seen in Psalm 51, and the open, willing forgiveness of God.