Forgiveness: Complete and Total

“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” Psalm 103: 8-14

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

Regret. Yikes, it’s an uncomfortable word. I’m willing to bet at the sound of that word something inside of you bubbles up, coming to mind all hot and accusatory. I know it does for me. I’m getting a little nervous just writing about it.

Whether it’s a lie you told your parents, the way you treated a friend, or something you wished you had done, we all make mistakes and a lot of times, that means we carry around some degree of regret. It’s that twinge you feel when you think about what you did, that longing to go back and do it all over again.

It’s healthy to feel a little sadness when you think back on your mistakes, but I know many times I take it far past that. It can take over you. It’s easy to beat ourselves up constantly for what we’ve done, to hash it out over and over in our minds, and to allow it to determine how we think about ourselves. We start to define ourselves by our mistakes, thinking there’s no way God could still love us if He knew what we’d done.

But that’s just not the truth. Psalm 103 is one of my absolute favorites, because it speaks loudly of the Lord’s incredible and expansive forgiveness. Though sometimes we think of Him as pointing a finger, accusing us of all of our mistakes, we see here that He is compassionate, and does not treat us the way we deserve.

He goes even further than that, for He removes our sins from us as far as possible, as far as the East is from the West! We can’t even imagine how far that is, and that is exactly the point. When you ask forgiveness and claim Jesus as your Savior, God sees His son’s righteousness when He looks at you, not all of the mistakes that haunt you.

Picture two books, one filled with everything you’ve ever done wrong - the little stuff and the big. The other is written entirely of Jesus’ perfection; there’s not a mistake to be found. What Jesus did on the cross was switch the book covers, putting his name on all of your mistakes, and your name on His righteousness.

He accepted responsibility and punishment for everything you and I will ever do wrong, not because we deserve it, but because of His incomprehensible love for us.

Knowing this, how crazy is it to think that something we did was too big for God to forgive? There’s no such thing.

So many of us walk around weighed down by guilt and shame for what we’ve done, but to us God says in Matthew 28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. . . . For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

In Jesus we find complete and total forgiveness, a Savior who takes away the burden of our regret and replaces it with the easy yoke of His love. Because God has forgiven you, you can forgive yourself, you can rest and rejoice and give yourself a break! It’s a process, but one drenched in unending wells of grace and forgiveness and steadfast love. All you can do is say to yourself, “I am forgiven” over and over again until it really sticks.

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