The Bible certainly contains scriptures that speak about repenting and confessing before we are forgiven. 1 John 1: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

But there is also a sense, a reading of scripture, that God forgives humanity before we ask. Take Isaiah 44:22: “I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me for I have redeemed you.” (NIV); in Jeremiah 31:34 God announces the New Covenant saying he will remember sins no more.

One of the clearest passages is in Colossians 2 in which Paul writes to the Gentile church, “13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” (ESV)

In Colossians 1: 20 we read that God made peace with his creation through the blood of Christ shed on the cross. Paul also writes that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them (2Cor. 5:19). I don’t think God could approach us without first making peace with humanity

This all has implications for why we forgive others their transgressions against us even if they have not asked for forgiveness. This is the miracle of God’s grace and love at work in the cosmos. We are acting as children of our heavenly Father. In Matthew 5 Jesus tells his disciples to love even their enemies and pray for those who persecute them. (Matthew 5:44)

When we forgive another we die to ourselves, our egos, and trust any judgment to God. That’s how the Kingdom works. We are not told to forgive others for psychological or even emotional reasons. (Though it wouldn’t hurt in that regard.) We are invited to enlarge our own hearts for more of God’s grace to take up residence within us. That is life in the Kingdom.

Recall how Jesus unconditionally forgave others from the cross. He forgave Peter even before their meeting on the beach. That’s how love works. That’s how our lives best work even though it goes against the grain of our own defense mechanisms.

Christmas might be an appropriate time when conditions are right for the accomplishment of a crucial action. It’s a good time to say, ‘yes’ to God who in Christ loves us so much that his Son was willing to die for us. It’s a good time for us to ‘be like our heavenly Father’ and let go of the sins of others. There may be consequences for their sin but those are not ours to choose. Our choice is to love as God has loved us.

A Blessed Christmas to all.

Taking it for granted.

So I have been thinking that the reason many folks, including myself, don’t get the whole ‘love of God’ thing is that we take for granted God’s love. That love thing is what God does, doesn’t he? What’s the big deal? But the big deal is that we have little idea of what God’s kind of love really means; that even while we turned our backs on him he still loved us enough to send his only Son, Jesus to die for us. He did that while we were his enemies.

Imagine in war where one soldier is taught to give up his life for his fellow soldier. That’s often the instinct of a soldier or maybe it is from the kindness of his heart that he throws himself on a grenade to protect his friend. That’s all well and good but would this same soldier give his life for his enemy? That’s what God does for you and me. Somehow we bought the idea a long time ago that we weren’t really that bad so it didn’t take much for God to love us. Listen I would break down and cry if a friend saved my life. But if I am somehow held hostage and one of my captors gave up his life so I could escape well I would be daily grateful, more than words can say, for that man. Do we not know that’s what God did for us when he grabbed us from the jaws of hell to rescue us and make us into his friends?

Imagine your spouse leaves you to be with another partner, cashes out your bank account, and pretty much ruins your life. And then down the road a few years later he or she comes back to you to ask for forgiveness. How easy would it be to love him or her? That’s what God did for us. Took us back. Read the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15. How grateful would that wayward spouse be upon being welcomed back and loved?

Suppose you are walking down the street and some guy comes up behind you and beats you half to death and steals your money. You end up in ICU in some downtown hospital. Later the guy  shows up at the door of your room and asks for forgiveness. You not only forgive him but you ask him to be your best friend and come and live with you. That’s the kind of love God showed his enemies, even the ones who beat his Son to death. I can only imagine the gratitude the aforementioned criminal might have each day for his earthly savior. Read how Isaac Watts, hymn writer and pastor from the 1700’s put it:

  1. When I survey the wondrous cross
    On which the Prince of glory died,
    My richest gain I count but loss,
    And pour contempt on all my pride.
  2. Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
    Save in the death of Christ my God!
    All the vain things that charm me most,
    I sacrifice them to His blood.
  3. See from His head, His hands, His feet,
    Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
    Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
    Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
  4. Were the whole realm of nature mine,
    That were a present far too small;
    Love so amazing, so divine,
    Demands my soul, my life, my all.


Those last two lines really impact me. I owe not only my praise but also my whole life to this God who loves me so. Actually you could read the whole hymn and discover the amazing reality of God’s love poured out for us and poured into our hearts. Let it stir up our hearts to service and praise for the Lord God who loves us so. Maybe it’s why people have crucifixes to be able to sit and gaze upon the figure of Christ (not an idol) and then contemplate what he did for us.

That’s what love is all about. Not that we loved God but that he loved us first when we were lost, in the abyss of sin and he threw us a lifeline. Every day I want to be amazed at this love and remember how much he loves me. Not just the world but also each and every one of us to the nth degree. Remember how the song goes HIS EYE IS ON THE SPARROW.