But what about those questions…?


Good morning,

If you’ve just joined us, you might not know that we’ve been talking forgiveness… and what began as a couple of questions after a post called, “There’s just something about canceled debt”, has now become a series of blog posts on the subject. I’ve been blessed with the company of another blogger on this series. Donna Lowe graciously shared her biblical, Godly perspective in, “Understanding Forgiveness”, and she will be sharing two more blogs in the next couple of weeks. I dug into the meaning of the words in, “Forgiveness defined“.

So where are we at this point? Where are you?

I’m going back to the original questions of Suzan, who said,

“The debt of guilt! Now there’s a concept… I have to say guilt can really rule my life at times. I think more often than not guilt stems from our inability to forgive ourselves rather than someone else. I think for many people it’s the hardest forgiveness to achieve. Are there any stories in the bible that address this?

So far we’ve looked at stories in the Bible that talk about forgiveness… God’s forgiveness that is available to each of us. Donna looked at the story of David, who needed God’s forgiveness BIG time! And there are take-homes for us from this story, as well as many other Bible stories about regular folk who needed God to forgive them… which he did. Over and over again. Read Donna’s post to see how David’s story applies, illustrating how God longs to be in a pure love relationship with each of us.

There are also many Bible stories about forgiving others. It’s clear that we are to forgive others as God forgives us… over and over again. We can see how often we are to forgive… HERE, why we are to forgive… HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE, when we are to forgive… HERE, who we are to forgive (love)… HERE and HERE, how we are to forgive… HERE and HERE.There are other examples as well.

What I cannot see is any Biblical stories or verses about forgiving myself or forgiving God. I’m adding ‘Forgiving God’ as it’s something that is somewhat related. Which leads me to wonder where these concepts come from? I’ve read them in books, been presented with these ideas by speakers, in conversation… but is it truth? Can it be substantiated in scripture? At this point I cannot find any reference to either concept in the Bible. If you know of something I’ve missed, please share with us. But, if it’s not there, it’s not true. That’s my foundational belief.

Let’s look at the question of forgiving God first. If I need to forgive God… then what does that say of God? I believe it says a few things;

• God needs to be forgiven by me.

• God has done something wrong.

• God is guilty.

The God that I am growing to know… the Hebrew God, the ‘I AM’ of the Bible, is a perfect, holy, awesome, all-powerful, all-knowing, Creator God. He does not need anything from me, certainly not my forgiveness. God does not make any mistakes. God therefore cannot be guilty of any offense as he cannot do anything wrong.  That would go against his character… the core of who he is.

So, my need to forgive God is possibly similar to my need to ask forgiveness or offer forgiveness to others sometimes. It makes me feel better, gets things out in the open, let’s me vent, puts my burden partially back on them. It’s self-focused, rather than God-focused. It relieves me of my responsibility in the thing. I do not believe it to be necessary, nor is it based on the truth. Although I have practiced this in the past, I now believe I was wrong… arrogant in my thinking. I should not forgive God. Nothing is his fault.

What about forgiving myself? I can find no Bible stories that support this idea either. Yet, might it still be needed? That’s a little more complicated, I think. In my opinion, if I,

a) take responsibility for my actions,

b) live through the consequences of them,

c) understand that I am in control of my choices and that what I do, or did is a result of me doing things ‘my way’,

d) asked forgiveness from the people I may have hurt because of my choices, and

e) asked for forgiveness from God for not doing things His way, (not necessarily in that order), and

if I still feel that I need to forgive myself… then I guess it might be a worthwhile exercise to do.

I’d like to believe that it might be unnecessary to do this if I have undertaken all of the above steps. You may not agree, and I know and respect that everyone’s life circumstances are varied. But, asking for, and receiving God’s forgiveness, is a supernatural experience that removes, in it’s entirety, your guilt. There is none left. If we keep a clean slate with God, asking forgiveness on a daily basis for our mistakes, our shortcomings, then we can live in a wide open place of freedom from guilt, regret, remorse. I’d like to live that way. It’s my choice to do so every day.

One more thought… it’s possible to take guilt back. It’s possible to live like you are not forgiven. We are such complicated creatures, and so we can live believing lies about ourselves and others. If you take back the guilt, you are living a lie, living the past. YOU HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN ONCE AND FOR ALL. Let it go. Believe in God’s truth of having been forgiven. Human forgiveness is imperfect. God’s forgiveness is completely perfect. Read and re-read scripture verses that press this truth into your heart. Daily, hourly if you have to. That is the only way to fight against the lies.

Here are some verses, among many, that will help you;

1 John 2:12 (NIV)

12I remind you, my dear children: Your sins are forgiven in Jesus’ name.

Ephesians 1:7(NIV)

7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.

Romans 10:9 (The Message)

It’s the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God—”Jesus is my Master”—embracing, body and soul, God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That’s it. You’re not “doing” anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: “God has set everything right between him and me!”

John 3:16-18 (The Message)

16-18“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.

Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to join in our conversation. If you have any comments, please don’t hesitate to add your two cents.

Living and learning,

Lesley-Anne

There’s just something about canceled debt…


Last night we had a fire in the big terracotta flower pot by our front door, drank some sparkling wine as the fire burned, and had our son take some photos of our celebration. It is against the local bylaws to burn anything, unless it’s a fire for the purposes of cooking food. But it was only a teeny tiny fire, and out almost as quickly as it started. Please don’t tell!

So, we put matches to paper and burned away the remaining evidence of a long-term debt that is now paid off. What a feeling of relief and release. For the very first time our home really is our home.

I remember our first home, and the first time we got a mortgage statement in the mail, and how shocked I was at the small percentage of principal we had paid versus the large amount of interest. The reality of our debt hit hard. The years of payments ahead seemed endless at the time. Then, suddenly, we are free!

Being free of this particular debt now frees up funds for the next phase of our lives. Our kids are growing older, and years of University/College expenses loom just ahead. With finances freed up, our desire to be more philanthropic and ensure financial stability in our elder years now seems attainable.

I shared my new feelings of lightness and freedom with a dear friend whom I knew would celebrate with me. And she understood completely. Her thoughts around canceling her own long-term debt were that if something should happen to her husband, and they had the mortgage paid off, at least she’d have the family home for her and the kids… a solid place to land. She is such a good mom.

But what about the other debts we carry that weigh on us, like debts of action or inaction that have effected others in a negative way? My husband would call that guilt… and so it is. The debt of guilt. Now that’s another heavy thing that we don’t need to carry around with us, but we do. To live lightly, without guilt, requires a type of payment too. To pay this type of debt, you might need to take some action, forgive someone, or, alternately, you might need to ask someone’s forgiveness. Only then can you unload the guilt and start fresh. And being human means you, like me, probably have to do this A LOT!

And, what about the debt of sin? Maybe not a word you are comfortable with, but sin is something that I can’t ignore in my life. If you consider what the Bible says, and you believe it to be true, then it’s clear that there is no such thing as someone who is free of sin.  The Bible says, “No not one”. So, if we aren’t free of it, what’s the outcome of that human condition? The Bible says, “The wages of sin are death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ.”

Now, the wages of sin sound a lot like a debt to me?  Let’s look at how another version called The Message says it, “Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. But God’s gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master.” In this case, wages or pension is the natural outcome of where you’ve made your life investment. If it’s in sin, then the outcome is eternal separation from God. If you’ve invested in God, then the outcome is eternal life with God.

You might be thinking, I’m a good person. I try hard not to sin. I do my best to follow the 10 commandments and the golden rule. So do I. But it’s virtually impossible to do. We all fall short of a God who is Holy. No matter how hard we try, we fall short. Bible says our very best acts of righteousness are just like dirty rags before God. So, like that financial obligation (mortgage) that we worked and worked at, and paid only a tiny part of the principle for years, so this sin debt is not within our power to pay. And, if we desire to be with God, be one of his children, be made right and without sin, then that debt of sin, that obligation, needs to be canceled somehow.

So, here we are faced with the reality of having a huge debt to pay and no way to pay it. And God steps in and says, here, here is my Son. He will pay. Jesus will pay your entire debt and give you complete freedom from what you owe due to your inherent sin condition. And my Son will pay your debt with his life. He will die so you can live. Live forever, starting the moment you receive my gift of forgiveness and new life.

As we go through Lent, a time of preparation that leads us to the holy season of Easter, I can’t help but think about what Jesus paid FOR ME, and what he gave TO ME. Jesus gave me ultimate freedom and eternally canceled debt. In return I want to invest my life in him and his ways. That’s a mystery in itself, but one I’m willing to unpack day by day.

Today I’m celebrating freedom from financial and spiritual debt. And I feel light. I feel free.

Lesley-Anne