Day 1 • Forgiveness—a Process
“Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? ... Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times‘” (Matthew 18:21-22).
Have you noticed in your own experience that forgiveness is more often a process than it is a one-time event?
There are at least two reasons for this: First, as Peter suggests, an individual may offend us again and again. In those cases, even forgiving seven times isn’t enough. We have to keep on forgiving.
The second reason is that quite often we are able to forgive, but not forget. And one of Satan’s most powerful tools against us is to constantly re mind us of wrongs that have been done to us— even though we have forgiven the person and thought we were completely done with the whole situation.
To be able to say, “Thank You, Lord, for having taken care of that situation and for setting me free from any bitterness”—that is part of God’s continuing grace in our lives. We need to face old issues of forgiving, but we can do so with joy, knowing that the process of forgiveness has a powerful influence for good and for grace in our lives.
INSIGHT: Continuing reminders of the need for forgiveness give us new opportunities for a sense of Christ’s power and freedom in our hearts.
Day 2 • Forgiveness—in Unlimited Supply
“Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap” (Luke 6:37-38).
The world system strongly suggests that you should keep everything you can get. In contrast, God’s Kingdom principles suggest it is as you freely give that you will be richly blessed in return. Nowhere does this principle show more powerfully than in forgiveness.
Through Jesus’ power living in us, He provides us with an unlimited supply of something the world desperately needs—forgiveness. And as we share His power in reaching out with forgiveness and reconciliation, that power and joy come back to us many times over. The Kingdom principle of giving rather than taking will demonstrate its rich ness as you and I share forgiveness.
The world keeps cautioning us that as we give away, our pockets become empty. It is a pathetic, impoverished view of man. Jesus says, “I have freely given you all things.” Thus as Christians we are in a unique position to forgive—Jesus has set us free from the fear that somehow we lose something if we do forgive.
INSIGHT: God assures us, “Give My love freely; forgive as freely as I have forgiven you. Let Me surprise you with blessings that come back to you many times.”
Day 3 • Forgiving—by Faith
“Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him” (John 14:21).
I am afraid I’m a lot like the Pharisees and others of Jesus’ day, always wishing He would give me some special evidence of His power. “Lord, if I could just feel your presence more strongly—or see some convincing evidence that you want me to do this thing.” Oh, I may not say those words, but the thoughts are just as certainly there.
Jesus says to me, “Trust Me. Go ahead and do what you know I want you to do. Then, after you have taken that step of faith, then you will sense and see My confirmation.” Amazingly, forgiveness is one of those issues where this principle applies.
You may think of 100 reasons for delaying badly-needed forgiveness, hoping that you’ll feel different or that somehow Christ will make things different. But it won’t work. He’s calling you to trust Him—to take the action of forgiveness in faith. Having honored Him in this way, then the sweet peace and joy of His presence will cover over your heart—and probably in the relationship with the person with whom you’ve been reconciled.
INSIGHT: We need to trust Jesus enough to venture out in forgiveness of others. He will give us His strength so that, through forgive ness, we can share His reconciliation.
Day 4 · Forgiveness—Being Set Free
“O restore me to health, and let me live! Lo, for welfare I had great bitterness. It is Thou who has kept my soul from the pit of nothingness, For Thou hast cast all my sins behind Thy back” (Isaiah 38:16-17,
What are the alternatives to forgiveness? Broken relationships, a life of bitterness, remorse and alienation. It is a desolate prospect. Another translation of our key verses for today aptly suggests, “My life was nothing but ashes.”
God’s forgiveness brings our lives back fr the ash heap, restores us to health, and lets live! Without the freedom of forgiveness we not even living. We can’t have life apart from God’s forgiveness, and a lack of forgiveness o be devastating in our relationships with other
Today’s Scripture is taken from a prayer King Hezekiah in which he gave thanks that h sins had been put behind God’s back. When Go forgives, He no longer sees our sins. Today you can come back from bitterness—possibly even years of carrying something unforgiven. Go to God with it. Then, if necessary, go to your friend colleague, or family member. Share your burden or ask for the needed forgiveness. You’ll enjoy a sense of release-of being set free.
INSIGHT: Asking for forgiveness may hurt, but we will be set free from the terrible bondage of bitterness, darkness, and brokenness.
Day 5 • Forgiveness—Gift of Life
“He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt … having nailed it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13-14, NASB).
Alive! I am alive because of what Christ has done on the cross. He took my guilt—my bill of indebtedness that was in reality my death certificate—and nailed it once and for all over His head on the cross, thus annulling it. Christ, my Savior, paid in full the debt that I never could have paid.
I am like a prisoner pardoned from death row. I can walk out free into the sunlight of
God’s love and acceptance, and I can look forward to an eternity of living with Him.
Forgiveness—what a price it cost Him, but what emancipation it brings me. Here, my fellow Christian, is our absolute, unbreakable promise from the Father: that having faith in His Son, we are forgiven—and free. “In (Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding” (Ephesians 1:7-8).
INSIGHT: We can each offer God today our stumbling words of appreciation for the gift of life He has given us through His Son Jesus.
Day 6 • Knowing God Is in Control
“And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you” (Genesis 45:5).
Look in on one of the most moving scenes in the Old Testament. See Joseph, second in Pharaoh’s kingdom, his eyes filled with tears and his heart overcome with joy and emotion. Watch Joseph as he welcomes his brothers—in forgiveness.
Long ago they had plotted to kill him, and would have done so, had it not been for one of the brothers, Judah. Instead, they had sold him to a caravan of traders, and lied to their father, saying a wild beast had killed him.
Years had passed. While Joseph was being blessed by God, his brothers and their father back in Canaan had fallen on famine and hard times. Having come to Egypt to find grain, Joseph’s brothers found the surprise of their lives. Joseph was alive—and running the kingdom! He could freely forgive his brothers because he knew that God was in control of all things (50:17-21). He trusted God and didn’t look at the circumstances.
INSIGHT: We may have some tough going. Our circumstances may be bleak. But trusting that God is in control will allow us to forgive and be free.
Day 7 • Forgive—and Be Forgiven
“If you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15).
Clearly our salvation is not because of our good works. We are free individuals because of God’s grace-in spite of what we are. So how can it be possible that God is held back from forgiving us because of our unwillingness to forgive?
The Scripture makes clear that because of trusting Christ, we are permanently forgiven for all our wrongdoing (Colossians 2:13-15). But the Scripture also makes clear that our old nature may cause us to still sin, in spite of the fact that we are Christians (1 John 1:8-9).
The implications are that even though I am Christian, forgiven and trusting in Christ, if I carry unforgiven issues around regarding my brothers, there is no way I can come to God asking for forgiveness and a sense of freedom from the sins I know I commit. God is prevented from giving me that freedom by my own unwilling ness to give the freedom to my brother through forgiveness.
INSIGHT: Something to think about: Forgiveness begets forgiveness. And freedom begets freedom.
Day 8 • Forgiveness—after Repentance
“If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent, forgive him” (Luke 17:3-4).
When we speak of forgiveness we are touching the center of God’s character, and His grace is never cheap. There are conditions to forgiveness.
First, of course, it is Christ’s death, as part of God’s great plan of reconciliation and renewal that makes forgiveness possible. His power for restoration flows out through Christ’s death and resurrection. But there is my part too. Repentance. It comes up again and again in the Scripture as the first step in my restoration. I have to want the situation to change—to turn around. And, of course, that’s what repentance is: remorse for what has happened and a change to a new direction. If I seek forgiveness for something I have done, repentance is the first step.
We can pray, “Lord Jesus, it is so easy to say I want to change—that I’m sorry for what I’ve done. Give me the power of genuine repentance and then the freedom that comes in Your forgiveness.”
INSIGHT: We may put off repentance or try to avoid it altogether, but if we desire fellowship with God, we need to take that first step in restoration.
Day 9 • The Power of Christ’s Kingdom
“When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals. . . Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing’ ” (Luke 23:33-34).
In Christ’s Kingdom, what does it mean to have “rights”? A man is unjustly charged accused and condemned under false testimony. Then he is executed under the most torturous circumstances. While this is going on, what little earthly possessions he had are fought over by the very people who are torturing him. And, in a final, wretched act of inhumanity, those who have designed this whole diabolical sequence of events challenge the dying man to save himself.
This horrifying picture, of course, is Jesus on the cross. The Son of God “suffered for you. … While being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, and kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:21-23, NASB).
Instead of calling on the defense of His Father’s legions of angels, Jesus submitted. Instead of venom and hatred in those last phrases uttered as He died, there were the healing words of forgiveness.
INSIGHT: When we give up our rights in a human sense, we are set free to experience the power of the universe—the power of Christ’s kingdom, with love and forgiveness at its center.
Day 10 • A Key to Communication
“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sin” (Mark 11:25).
For weeks she had carried a feeling of resentment and hurt; after all, she had been trying to help. But all that she received in response was a rumor, carried by a third party, that those she had tried to help really questioned her motives. “She had her own personal reasons, they were reported to have said.
As the days had gone by she had felt more and more sterile—spiritually dry and cut off. Finally, she just burst out in her prayer one day “Father, I feel terrible—about those people about my own attitude, about the whole mess. Please forgive me for my attitude, and give me a loving spirit of forgiveness with them.”
Scripture suggests a close connection between our freedom in prayer, our vital relationship with God, and our freedom because of forgiveness. Things unforgiven block an open relationship with our Heavenly Father just as they erect barriers in our relations with family and friends.
INSIGHT: God will show us when we need to clear up something so that our communication can be open and free. Then He will give us the power to take the needed action.
Day 11 • Forgiveness—a Floodgate
“Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God. … Get rid of all bitterness. … Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:30-32).
The apostle Paul contrasts two strikingly different lifestyles in Ephesians 4:17-5:2: one is bitter, angry, slanderous — and cut off from the power of the Holy Spirit. The other is tender hearted, forgiving, loving—and reflects the nature of Christ because the Holy Spirit is present. One has the stench of death about it; the other the sweet-smelling aroma of life and vitality.
It’s remarkable how forgiveness can be the floodgate that opens our lives to the release of darkness and the inrush of the graciousness of the Holy Spirit. However, if we consciously carry bitterness and things unforgiven in our hearts, we close those floodgates, cutting ourselves off from the Spirit. Behind that dam are the increasingly putrid waters of Satan’s hatred and resentment which destroy our lives and vitality.
Our prayer can open the floodgate: “Jesus, I want to walk in the light, in Your Spirit. Clean out my heart and mind. Give me complete freedom as I forgive others.”
INSIGHT: Through Christ’s love we may share with others today the priceless sense of His forgiveness and acceptance.
2 CORINTHIANS 2
Day 12 • Choosing to Forgive
“If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven… I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 2:10-11).
Leave a broken relationship unresolved and you open the door wide to Satan’s power. Forgive, restore, and reconcile relationships, and you are healing wounds and preventing the danger of Satan’s infection in your life.
When Paul tells us to put on the “whole armor of God,” he’s really suggesting that we take on God’s character. God has forgiven and has made forgiveness possible—so now I can forgive. In forgiving, I keep relationships strong and healthy.
Especially among Christian friends, Jesus suggests that our loving relationships are an important way the world will know that we are His disciples (John 13:35). He goes even further and says the world can judge God’s integrity by the open ness of our relationships, the way they are marked by love (17:21). What an incentive. No wonder Satan does everything possible to bring darkness to our relationships. Forgiveness brings light and openness.
INSIGHT: When Christ’s character is present there is no room for Satan. When we consciously fail to forgive, we choose to step away from Christ’s nature.
Day 13 • Acceptance—then Forgiveness
“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:18).
When questioned by the lawyer in the now famous exchange in Luke 11, Jesus quoted the Old Testament passage that is our verse for today. He said that if we loved God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and our neighbor as ourselves, we would have kept the central part of the law. In fact, He said, “Do this and you will live.”
But how can I love my neighbor if I don’t love myself? That is, if I have never forgiven myself for being an ordinary person who sins and fails and can’t meet God’s standards, how can I forgive and accept my neighbor who has the same problem?
Paul addresses this when he says, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God” (Romans 15:7). You are accepted, my friend, just as you are! And with that acceptance you can be at peace with yourself and with God. Further, you can accept and be at peace with others.
INSIGHT: Acceptance of ourselves is the first step to forgiveness. Praise God, He has given it to us so we can give it to others.
2 CORINTHIANS 5:11-21
Day 14 • Forgiveness—and Reconciliation
“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. … We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors” (2 Corinthians 5:18, 20).
God’s nature is reconciliation. Throughout Scripture we see His extraordinary effort to re store a whole, living relationship with people.
Originally we were made in His image. So any step toward wholeness or Godlikeness, which Christ’s death and resurrection make possible, is a step toward being like God-once again.
It is natural, then, isn’t it, that we should be agents of reconciliation. What a remarkable assignment He has given us—to be on a mission which has as its purpose healing lives, restoring relationships, giving forgiveness, and sharing the power of accepting love. As we walk in His Spirit we’re part of His great restoration of human lives.
Think of these amazing words in Ephesians: “He reconciled both [Jew and Gentile] to God by the sacrifice of one body on the cross, and by his act killed the enmity between them. Then he came and brought the good news of peace to you who were far from God and to us who were near” (2:16-17, PH).
INSIGHT: God can give us His power to express His love in circumstances where we see the pain of alienation, bitterness, and anger around us.
Day 15 • Forgiveness—in Secret
“Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:1).
It seems that good works can be done two ways. I may do good for my own ego or glory. Or, because right actions are in keeping with God’s character, and I and others will be better for my having done them, I may do good works with no expectation of immediate benefits.
Take forgiveness as an example. It’s possible for me to go through the motions of forgiving someone just so that he or she will feel guilty about making me feel bad! The whole exercise can be designed to feed my ego, not to genu inely restore a relationship.
On the other hand, there will be times when I need to forgive actual grievances—without ever saying a word to the individual who wronged me. It may be that the major work needs to be done in my heart. The other party may have no idea he has offended or hurt me. But the healing of forgiveness is needed just as badly. This for giveness of someone in secret is one way we can act as Christ would.
INSIGHT: Today or tomorrow there will be individuals we need to forgive. Where it’s appropriate, we can make it a matter of the heart—between Christ and us.
1 PETER 4:7-11
Day 16 • Forgiveness—in God’s Strength
“If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 4:11).
It is Christ’s Spirit at work in us that gives us an awareness of the need for forgiveness. He also gives us the power to get on with it once we’ve come to see the need.
God never asks us to act without giving us the resources necessary to carry out the action Christ’s death is the turning point of human history. But His resurrection and continuing life are what give us the power to live today.
Christ is in the world today, reconciling people to Himself. His Spirit is drawing them speaking to them, loving them. Ordinarily, this glorious work goes on through us. It may be hard and sometimes even distasteful, but the business of forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration is the heart of the Kingdom’s glorious message.
Are you trying to live your life through your own strength alone? I wonder, my friend, if some real changes might not occur if you leaned back on Christ, letting Him do the loving, the forgiving, the reconciling.
INSIGHT: We can let Christ live His life in us today. He waits to do the loving, the forgiving, and the reconciling through us.
Day 17 • Forgiveness—without Worry
“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25).
I met a couple who were engaged—and I felt sad! You see, the woman told me that she and her fiancé had drawn up a list of their respective “rights” in their marriage relationship. She said they feared one might take advantage of the other. As I listened, I couldn’t help but feel they were headed for some terrible disappointments.
One reason Christians are able to share forgiveness freely is that we don’t have to defend our rights. In Christ we have access to resources of privilege and power, and this very security makes us free. Because we are His, because we have taken up the cross, we don’t have to worry about our rights. Nobody can take away our position in Christ or jeopardize the security and position we have in Him. Because of that, we can share forgiveness rather than live in fear. We can have peace when fear would cause us to defend ourselves, to demand our rights. Christ defends us and gives us a calming sense of the value He places on us.
INSIGHT: In the freedom Christ gives us, we have the power to forgive and share His remarkable love.
Day 18 • Receiving Forgiveness
“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13).
As a parent, one of the hardest things for me to do has been to say to my children, “I was wrong. Please forgive me.” We may think that others do things that call for forgiveness—but me? It’s much easier (despite the fact it is often hard) to give forgiveness than it is to receive it.
There’s something inside me that desperately wants to believe that I’m perfect, that I couldn’t have done something that was wrong enough to actually need someone’s forgiveness. But Paul’s words in our verse for today makes it clear that we each do need forgiveness. And John goes one step farther when he says that if we deny we are sinners, then we are liars (1 John 1:8).
Deep down within me is the desire to believe that I’m in control—that I “have it together.” My pride makes it hard for me to believe that I need forgiveness—much less to accept it with graciousness and thanks. But accepting forgiveness is another step toward accepting myself—and others.
INSIGHT: In doing wrong to any individual, we are also doing God wrong. In receiving forgiveness from that one, God really is the One who is forgiving us.
2 TIMOTHY 1:3-14
Day 19 • Forgiveness—within Reach
“God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7, KJV). “God did not give us a spirit of timidity” (1:7).
Satan wants me to believe that I’m a victim: a victim of my circumstances, of my relationships, and of my own sin. He continues to tell me that I am virtually powerless to deal with my situation. Broken relationships needing forgiveness and healing are beyond repair, or so Satan’s song of despair goes.
In contrast to this dark message of hopeless ness, Jesus breaks through with light, and love, and power. He says, “Because the Father forgives, so can you. Because of My resurrection, you have the power to forgive, restore, and start over.”
Can I grasp the truth that Christ puts forgiveness in my hand and that He is Lord over all? No government, no organization, no political force, no circumstance, no individual can stand in the face of this power. Nothing can stop me from taking the initiative in forgiveness. Only fear-born out of Satan’s deception—can stop me. Love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18). What an opportunity to demonstrate our freedom and power in Him!
INSIGHT: Our old natures are often reluctant, fearful, and even bitter. But forgiveness is within our reach. Jesus Christ made sure of that.
Day 20 • Forgiveness—Lovingly Offered
“While he was still some distance off, his father saw him and his heart went out to him, and he ran and fell on his neck and kissed him” (Luke 15:20, PH).
One of the richest parts of God’s message of forgiveness is that He is not only willing to take us back—He wants us back. One translation of Luke 15 says about the yearning father, “He flung his arms around him and kissed him” What joy! What reunion! What restoration!
While the derelict son stammered out his well-practiced speech, his father interrupted with orders to his servant for fine robes, a beautiful ring—and a dinner celebration! While the son desperately tried to make things good, his father was accepting, loving, forgiving of him just as he was.
Dear friend, do you sense in at least some small way how much God loves you and wants you? Right now His Spirit longs for us to come home to bask in the warmth of His limitless love. He is forgiveness for each of us today. And His forgiveness is one of open arms.
Leave your fear behind. Turn to Him now. Don’t wait until you think you are good enough to come. Experience the riches of His love today.
INSIGHT: A big part of our fear of coming to God for forgiveness is because we think of Him in such a limited way. Run into His waiting arms—and accept others the same way!
Day 21 • Forgiveness—a Cure
“Her sins, many as they are, are forgiven; for she has shown Me so much love. But the man who has little to be forgiven has only a little love to give” (Luke 7:47, PH).
Jesus was talking to Simon the Pharisee. In one of the most memorable encounters in the New Testament, Jesus lamented the fact that Simon hadn’t even offered the most basic courtesies: water to wash Jesus’ feet and a kiss when He entered Simon’s house. Those little things, Jesus said, are acts of love. And these come only from those who understand their true situation. Simon, living in a false and shallow world of imagined righteousness, saw no need for forgiveness. He was complacent, self-righteous, and without love.
One of the great sins must be self-sufficiency a sense of being able to make it on our own without God and without the need for open, caring relationships. An awareness of a need for forgiveness and of a deep inadequacy must be the starting point for spiritual wholeness—true health.
Is there love in your life—the sense of its warmth, its healing power and presence? If not, I wonder if you may now need the cure of forgiveness—of yourself or of others.
INSIGHT: Do you want love in your life? Ask Christ to help you forgive yourself, accept the forgiveness of others, and freely share forgiveness with them.
Day 22 • The Price of Forgiveness
“Say to them: “This is the offering made by fire that you are to present to the Lord: Two lambs a year old without defect, as a regular burnt offering each day” (Numbers 28:3).
There is a cost to forgiveness. Perfection must be sacrificed — offered up. There were the perfect lambs placed on the altar to bring forgiveness to Israel, and Jesus, the perfect Man, yet Son of God, dying on the cross. And then there is me and my lack of perfection, my need for forgiveness. Ironic, isn’t it, that in the end we will be presented “faultless before His glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24). On that day we will actually be perfect. We will be made completely whole for the first time since Adam’s sin in the Garden.
But that perfection for us in the future has a real price in the present. There is today—the ordinary day in which the reality of my needs and of the weaknesses of others are so painfully evident. Today there is such need for forgiveness for reconciliation between God and myself and between myself and others. I must give up the image of my own perfection. I must sacrifice it, understanding that His sacrifice ultimately brings the only hope for real perfection.
INSIGHT: Good news! We can be ourselves. We don’t have to play games with God about how good we are. We can rest in His love, acceptance, and forgiveness today.
Day 23 • Forgiveness—and Peace
“He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. . . . As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:10, 12).
It’s good to know that the Father is viewing me today as a child, one whom He not only loves but one whom He must care for. Isn’t it good, my friend, to know that He is consciously and specifically thinking of you and me—that He has our individual welfare at heart? And because He thinks only the best for us, we can bask in the light of His love.
It’s easy to think that I have to do it all. It’s hard to trust Him with my daily affairs, the sins and aloneness of my life. But even as I wrestle with these feelings, I have His word that can never be broken: “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust” (vv. 13-14).
In light of this, I can pray, “Father, in the middle of today’s events—the rush and bustle and demands—give me the beauty of peace knowing how I am with You. And give me the freedom to share Your peace with others.”
INSIGHT: We are loved by God, so we can love. We are accepted by God, so we can accept. We are forgiven by God, so we can forgive.
Day 24 • The Other Side of the Equation
“Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ ‘No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “GO now and leave your life of sin?” (John 8:10-11).
Have you ever thought about how many times Jesus told His disciples they were sinners? Thinking through the Gospels, I can’t think of a single instance. But forgiveness? Oh, yes! Jesus not only talked about it—He lived it!
The disciples knew they were sinners alright. Remember when Peter exclaimed, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man”? (Luke 5:8) The quality of Jesus’ life and spirit, to say nothing of His teaching, made people powerfully aware of their sin. But it’s startling to note that Jesus seemed to focus on the other side of the equation—the reconciliation. “I have not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them,” Jesus told His disciples (see John 10:9-10).
Constant, steady reinforcement of His presence in giving life through love is what I need, more time in His presence, and daily awareness of His forgiveness. Can I accept His love, forgiveness, and acceptance of me? In doing so, can I then become a channel of His work in the lives of others?
INSIGHT: Jesus came to give life, not to take it. He will help us share that vision with other needy people around us.
Day 25 • Forgiveness—and Restoration
“When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heart of summer” (Psalm 32:3-4).
There’s something about my old nature that wants to cover things up—to pretend they don’t exist or to hope they will go away. Concern for his sin caused David to hold back-to not face up and admit to God his need for forgiveness. Maybe, my friend, you are doing the same today—living with a painful awareness of your need, but unable to break out of the crushing load of guilt. Day by day the load grows heavier with no let up.
The beauty of Psalm 32 is that David records not only his anguish and frustration, but also his release and joy when he finally came to God and blurted out his confession. Before forgiveness, David’s vitality was drained away. Afterward, he sang joyfully, “You surround me with songs of deliverance. . . . Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him. Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!” (vv. 7, 10-11)
INSIGHT: Thank God for His loving restoration when we confess our need of forgiveness. He promises this, and we can receive it by faith.
Day 26 • Forgiveness—First Things First
“They made an opening in the roof above Jesus and ... lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the para lytic, “Son, your sins for forgiven’” (Mark 2:4-5).
Commitment—that’s what it was—personal devotion on the part of the paralytic’s friends. They’d tear up the roof and lower the man in front of Jesus! If you can’t get to Him with traditional methods, they reasoned, then take radical action.
With this motionless body in front of Him now, Jesus addressed the man’s spirit, not his power less legs. “Your sins are forgiven,” He said. Only later He dealt with the man’s physical need. This speaks of Jesus’ priorities for us, doesn’t it? With our spirits clear and free because of His forgive ness, then we can get on to life’s other questions.
So often it seems easier for me to focus on my circumstances—the visible things that surround me: my backlog of work, the letters to be written and phone calls to be made, my social responsibilities, my need to keep up with living—the visible claims my attention. But the far greater need is to focus on the inside, the world of the spirit where forgiveness begins with its deepest and most important work.
INSIGHT: When we let Jesus’ light flood our insides, the outside of our lives, in turn, will reflect His beauty.
Day 27 • Forgiveness—by Faith
“Your heavenly Father knows that you need them. … Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself” (Matthew 6:32, 34).
Forgiveness deals with the present. It forgets the past and doesn’t worry about the future. Forgiveness, then, is an act of faith—the ingredient central to any vital relationship with God. Changed, renewed relationships with others can occur only through this faith as well. More often than not, however, I tend to say, “But I just don’t see how it’s going to work out.” Delayed forgive ness, then, only makes matters worse.
It’s amazing how much time I spend thinking about the past and the future. The tendency is almost irresistible to slip out of the present into thoughts of what’s ahead or what has happened before. It’s a challenge—to live this moment today!
In today’s passage, Jesus suggests that as we take the Kingdom way, we get everything we need. We are simply not to worry about our everyday needs, for our Heavenly Father already knows what we need. It is the Kingdom way to trust God for the past and the future—and giving forgiveness in His power—today.
INSIGHT: We are tempted to carry a lot of fear of the future. Ask Christ to give you faith in Him so you can forgive freely and trust Him with the results.
Day 28 • The One Who Knows All
“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13).
Want to run away? He goes with you. Want to hide? He is already in your secret place. This idea of running, hiding, and covering is an old and familiar one. Men and women try to get away from God, and all their effort expended when God already knows the whole story!
This tendency to run and hide started with Adam and Eve hiding from God. “Where are you, Adam?” was God’s call. This wanting to hide is a mark of my fear, my awareness of the distance between my nature and God’s. It’s no wonder, then, that forgiveness is the main ingredient in the road to reconciliation—and joy.
Christ has already faced every weakness and temptation I experience. He watches, loves, and says, “I understand.” I hurt myself when I try to conceal myself from the One who knows all and still loves me completely. Instead of running, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (v. 16).
INSIGHT: There’s no need to fake it. What we need is the strength to turn and give over our lives to Him—just as we are.
Day 29 • Forgiveness—and Seeing God
“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” (Psalm 51:3-4).
David defiled Bathsheba. He deceived her husband Uriah and later murdered him. But when David finally faced his actions and their consequences, he saw that it was God against whom he had sinned.
Think about that colleague, that family member, that neighbor—think about looking into that person’s eyes. Do you see God’s image there? Do you want to see it? Or, like me, do you want to continue carrying your idea of what this person is so you can justify your attitude toward that one—to continue in the way of alienation rather than His way of reconciliation in forgiveness?
People in our world are simply an extension of God’s love and character. When I violate personal relationships or His natural creation, I am ultimately sinning against the One who gave those things. Can I look at broken relationships and see God there? Might it just be that when I forgive others, or am forgiven myself, that I am engaged in the work of His Spirit?
INSIGHT: Do we genuinely believe that everything we do today is in some way connected to or associated with the Father?
1 JOHN 1:5-2:2
Day 30 · Forgiveness—and Fellowship
“If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
Scriptures indicate that there are two circumstances where forgiveness is needed. There is the permanent forgiveness we enjoy because we come to Christ and trust His finished work on the cross. Then, in writing to fellow Christians, John reminded them that though we are members of the Kingdom by trusting Christ, we may need a second kind of forgiveness, for we can break fellowship with His Spirit.
Growing up as a young boy in my family, my disobedience didn’t disqualify me as a member of the family, but it did cause a breakdown in fellowship with my parents. It became obvious fairly early in my childhood that I could do some rather silly things and thus be completely out of step with the character of my parents’ desires. Yet I was still loved and accepted by them. A member of the family, yes, but in need of forgiveness for my action. My parents could offer forgiveness, but fellowship was not restored until I recognized my need for that forgiveness and received it.
INSIGHT: Do we desire to live in close fellowship with Christ through forgiveness? We can depend on Him to help us avoid bad decisions which, in turn, break our relationship.
Day 31 · Forgiveness—Key to Freedom
“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free….So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” John 8:31, 36).
Forgiven people are free people. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1). Freedom from sin, and guilt, and fear. Yes. But freedom to some very important things. Like acceptance. Like openness.
The reason I’m free is because of Christ’s work-on the cross and, in turn, in my life. Because of God’s “glorious generosity,” He has made us welcome and embraces us in His eternal love for His Son” (see Ephesians 1:6-7). Welcome in His presence! How does awareness of His love and acceptance, this special kind of freedom, change my life today?
One of the hallmarks of Christians should be that they accept others just as they are. Forgiven, loved, and accepted by God, I am free to forgive, love, and accept others. My life, because of Christ, should be marked by an extraordinary openness. Delighted with what God has done for me, I should be able to accept others with the same delight. Freedom to truly live because of Him.
INSIGHT: We experience freedom as we acknowledge Jesus’ forgiveness of us and then seek to share it in all our relationships with others.