There are two temptations that have the potential to undo the hope of forgiveness. The danger is so commonplace that many of us don’t even think about, yet we unknowingly cheapen the law and ignore grace in our response to the confession of the people we are closest to. 

Whenever somebody I care about offers an apology to me, my most immediate and instinctual reaction is, “It’s okay” or “No big deal.”  Even reading those words, you might think, “So… what’s the problem with that.”  

If somebody is confessing their sin to you - that confession is the acknowledgement that what they did was not okay - so what’s the value of saying, “It’s okay.” “It’s okay” isn’t honest. Because if you really were hurt, if you really saw it as a sin against you and against God, it truly is a big deal. Forgiveness is always honest about the offense, yet it cancels the debt.

@@Forgiveness is canceling the debt, not pretending that the debt didn’t hurt.@@

When Jesus forgives our sins, there is nothing in the Scripture that indicate that our sins aren’t that big of a deal. In fact, the Law repeatedly reminds us that our sins are so severe that they are what required Jesus to go to the cross. The blood shed on the cross wasn’t Jesus saying, “No big deal,” it was Jesus saying, “You’re worth it.” 

The other temptation when we hear a confession is that we really want to be sure. We hear the confession but we want to know that you really meant it. We want to be sure that this won’t ever happen again. 

A few weeks ago, I was cleaning our family room. As a parent with toddlers, this is a daily occurrence, but in this event, I specifically had a talk beforehand and told both of them, “Please, don’t dump the toys anymore.”  

The moment the family room was nearly spotless, both of my toddlers walked over to the toy shelf and began to dump every bin full of toys back onto the floor. I responded quickly, scolding them, “What are you doing? Why would you do that?”

My son immediately stopped and his entire composure changed. His shoulders dropped a bit lower, his eyes welled up with tears, and he looked at me and said, “Daddy, I am so sorry.” 

That was a tough moment. 

And it wasn’t tough because he was heartbroken, it was tough because I was still ticked. Everything in me wanted to respond by making sure he really understand the gravity of the situation. Everything in me wanted to confirm that he was truly repentant.  I wanted to say, “I forgive you, but do you understand why I’m so upset?”  Or, “I forgive you, if you’re not going to do this again, right?” 

But here’s the problem with that. “I forgive you, but,” is not forgiveness. It’s not “I forgive you, but,” it’s “I forgive you, period.” And that’s risky - that actually leaves open the possibility that forgiveness will be abused. But forgiveness never has strings attached. 

When Jesus gives himself, he he gives of himself freely. Forgiveness can’t be earned. Forgiveness doesn’t depend on how heartbroken you feel, it doesn’t depend on whether or not you ever do it again, and it doesn’t depend on how big the sin is. The cross doesn’t say, “I forgive you, but,” the cross says, “I forgive you, period.” 

@@Your sins are forgiven. Period.@@  No strings attached. 

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