Over the last few weeks, every day was exciting as things were coming in to help prepare to do ministry in our new building. We had planned and planned, and it was all starting to come together. We weren’t sure if some of it was going to work the way we envisioned in our head or how we researched, until these items were here and put in place. Several of the things I had coming in, I initially planned to be needed only during Sunday morning services. But once they came, I changed my mind. They would minister more if they could stay up all the time. They were 12-foot feather flags that would allow passersby to see us and know we are here EVERY DAY, not just Sundays. I see these types of flags all over town in front of businesses, but I didn’t know if you had to get special permission to leave them up for an extended period of time. In conversation with a contractor, I asked if he knew, and he made a statement I have heard many times and have even used myself, “Might be better to ask for forgiveness instead of permission.” But my response has almost bothered me since then, “Yeah, but what’s the cost of the forgiveness?” What I meant was we would get fined for not obeying an ordinance. But I couldn’t help but think about the significance this simple statement means to so many of us.
In my own life, I know I have wrestled with asking for forgiveness, giving forgiveness, and even if I deserve forgiveness. I don’t think I can think of a single person I know who doesn’t struggle with one of these three, if not all, on a regular basis. This is typical human nature. This is definitely one of the hardest things God asks us to do. But it made me wonder how many times I delayed God moving in a situation in my own heart because I tried to weigh the earthly cost of forgiveness. Whether I needed to ask for it, give it, or receive it, I let the physical emotion determine my obedience, not that it was an action that can be guided by God. He gave us the example in extreme fashion...Jesus. He set it all up to meet us where we were, forgive us in person, and then physically die to prove He loves us and forgives us. So doesn’t it make sense if we would look at forgiveness through His eyes, instead of the wrong that has been done through our eyes, forgiveness wouldn’t feel impossible? Can we be reminded that the cost isn’t ours, that it was paid many years ago on the cross? So we should look at forgiveness as an added value, as an asset to our physical lives instead of cost to us that has already been paid. I think of how many times we have worshipped to the lyrics of songs like “You paid it all for me” (Reckless Love, Cory Asbury) or “Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe” (Jesus Paid It All, Kristian Stanfill), but maybe never thought about the weight of forgiveness in these statements. It’s like trying to pay a bill that has no balance due. I’m guaranteed eternity with Christ because of the gift of forgiveness...at no cost to me. It is already paid for; I just need to show my receipt! Choose forgiveness, no matter the form...give it, ask for it, receive it. It is all ordained in Him for right now, on this earth.
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses,
according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us,
in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will,
according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time,
to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.