“Lord, if you kept a record of our sins, who, O Lord, could ever survive? But you offer forgiveness, that we might learn to fear you.” – Psalm 130:3,4 NLT
For me, this is one of my favorite focuses of the Lenten season. So much of the scripture that we read this time of year is about Jesus’ death and suffering, resurrection and what it means for us.
His death means forgiveness.
If there is anyone who can appreciate the value of the gift of forgiveness, I think King David fits the bill. David’s sins are recounted in Old Testament, both as an example of what not to do (murder and adultery) and what to do (repentance and humility)
When I think back on all of the sins I have committed in my life, the wrongs I’ve done against others, the pain I’ve caused with thoughtless words and actions, it’s overwhelming. I imagine myself standing on one side of a pair of scales, with my sins piled high on the other. I imagine those sins, all the way up to the ceiling and out the door, about to take me over. How could God possibly find me acceptable?
And yet, our Father does not keep account of our sins — he doesn’t hold a grudge. He sees them, every single one, and mourns for us in our pain — just as we mourn a child who has chosen to act in a way that we know will bring harm. And when we finally see the light, and repent of our sin, He is there, welcoming us back. He offers us forgiveness, by means of our repentance and acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice. He never shuts off communication with us, never builds up walls, never holds it against us.
And what is the purpose of this forgiveness? Verse four says it’s so “that we might learn to fear you.”
Fear, not in the human sense, but in the holy sense. Fear meaning reverence and awe; the desire to obey our Father because his will is perfect for us, and when we live within his will, we are happy. No built up walls, no grudges. He is there.
“…hope in the Lord, for with the Lord there is unfailing love… – Psalm 130:7, NLT
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