Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Mid-Week Message - No Condemnation

"Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!"  Matthew 18:21-22 (NLT)

In 1970 a movie was released that starred Ali MacGraw and Ryan O'Neal.  The title was "Love Story."  This wildly popular movie contained a line that even now is occasionally quoted, "Love means never having to say you're sorry."  Audiences everywhere shed tears over this tragic tale and that line became the subject of much conversation in the religious circles.

When Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive someone that wrongs him, Jesus' answer of "seventy times seven" was a way of saying that there was no limit.  When someone causes us pain or harm and comes to seek forgiveness, we should grant it.  When we approach the Lord with a repentant heart and ask Him to forgive us, scripture assures us that He does just that. In fact, it says that our sins are cast as far as the east is from the west which means they are discarded and never remembered again.  

Recently I was recounting to my husband an incident that occurred thirty years ago with some former employers.  I continue to dream of them and each time I do I have the impulse to contact them to apologize.  I didn't actually do anything wrong meaning I didn't break any laws or do anything that would violate my conscience.  But there was a misunderstanding and some things were said that let me know that they were hurt.  Here's the quandary though, I did apologize and received their forgiveness.  Why then do I continue to feel that I need to set this right?

We have an adversary who draws great satisfaction from our feelings of condemnation.  If we feel guilty then our focus is on the guilt rather than on the grace we are given from others, or more importantly, from our Father.  Paul tells us in Romans 8:1, "So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus."  Once we express our repentance and forgiveness is granted, we no longer have to carry the burden of the event.  It cannot make anything better and only creates a separation between us and the other person or the Lord.  It is His intention that we live in freedom through the mercy and grace provided to us through the sacrifice of Jesus.  

When we struggle with feeling that we need to continually atone for something we did then we have to ask ourselves why.  The next step is to ask the Lord for His help in accepting grace then lay the offense and our feelings about it at the foot of the cross.  Once we give it to Him, it needs to stay there.  I pray that each of us has a week free of needless guilt.  God bless.

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