18 August 2019
Reading: Jeremiah 26, 35-36; John 20
22 Then he took a deep breath and breathed into them. “Receive the Holy Spirit,” he said. 23 “If you forgive someone’s sins, they’re gone for good. If you don’t forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?” (John 20:22-23 MSG)
I most often read from the New Living Translation. When I read from Eugene Peterson’s “The Message” version, I’m both refreshed and challenged by it. I’m refreshed by the conversational, street language Peterson uses. It helps me put things in the context of daily life. I’m also challenged by that very same quality!
I’m more accustomed to reading these verses like this; “If you forgive someone’s sins they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
That is some pretty challenging theology, you know! If we forgive someone’s sins they are forgiven. Does that mean what I think it does? If we don’t forgive someone’s sins, they are not forgiven. Did Jesus really mean it just the way it sounds?
“The Message” says, “If you don’t forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?” What am I going to do with the sins of people who sin against me if I don’t forgive them? What am I going to do with the sins of people who profess to be Christ-followers and then commit sins? What am I going to do with those sins?
Am I going to hold those sins against those people? Then that makes me a judge, not a forgiver. If I don’t forgive sins, what am I going to do with them? Am I stuck with the sins of people I don’t forgive? Am I going to be judgmental, resentful and bitter? Are their sins going to eat away at me like cancer of the soul?
Please, friends, think this through with me! If I don’t forgive sins, what am I going to do with them? Am I at my best, is my faith at its strongest, am I exercising the greatest power God has given to his church when I forgive sins? Is forgiving other people’s sins the most God-like thing I can do?
Father, Please take me another step in learning how you think and becoming like you. Help me to understand your forgiveness more and help me to live and love as a forgiven forgiver. I want to represent you better in my world. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.