True Forgiveness by Becca Mabry
The forgiveness of sins. What an overwhelmingly humbling thought. The forgiveness of sins is something that is truly unfathomable.
The end of February marked two full months of sweet, wonderful marriage for me. Within marriage I have already truly began to understand with more depth what the forgiveness that Jesus offers looks like. I love my husband more than any other human being on earth. When my sin hurts him and I see how deeply hurt he is, it rips apart my insides. How could I have hurt him like this? Why did I say that? Why did I do that? And my heart aches for reconciliation. My earthly husband is a picture of a better and eternal Husband, Jesus. When we sin, we hurt Him. Thankfully, we have the Cross. On the Cross, Jesus paid it all. He paid the full price for all of our sins.
One thing I have learned about forgiveness is that we do not have to earn it. My husband reflects The Lord in how he reacts in giving forgiveness. When I ask for forgiveness, my husband grants it immediately and without stipulations. I do not have to work harder first. I do not have to be perfect first. He forgives me and proceeds to healing and reconciliation.
In Psalm 32:5 David writes, “I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.” David did not get everything perfect first. He simply repented, turned to The Lord, turned from His sin, and received the gift of forgiveness. Likewise, we are to give forgiveness quickly and without stipulations. Ephesians 4:32 tells us, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
Lord, help us to be a people to repent quickly, to quickly seek forgiveness, and to quickly give forgiveness.
The second thing I have learned about forgiveness is that when The Lord forgives us, he does not keep throwing our past sins in our face. Psalm 103:12 affirms, “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” When we repent, The Lord blots out our sins. He does not keep them in His back pocket to taunt us. He chooses to forget them. Hebrews 8:12 says, “For I will forgive their iniquities, and remember their sins no more.” He affirms this again as Isaiah 43:25 points forward to Jesus, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”
How loving is our God who seeks to forgive us as we stray away from Him. In reflecting upon The Lord and His forgiveness, I have learned many things about His character.
First, He is faithful. First John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” We can have unshakable confidence that the blood of Jesus covers all of our iniquities. As my pastor likes to say, “Nothing that we have done or could ever do can outrun the blood of Christ.” Because of His faithfulness and love, we can feel comforted taking the uncomfortable step in repenting. The cross proves His faithfulness as Jesus left His throne to live among sinners and die a death in our stead. We never have to question if He will forgive us or if His forgiveness stretches to cover our sin. It does. Romans 5:20 says, “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.”
Second, He is merciful. Daniel 9:9 says, “The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him.” God has every right to punish us for our sins, but because of the finished work of Jesus on the cross, He chooses to give us compassion instead of wrath. He chooses to give us life instead of death.
Third, He is the Creator, and He is still creating new things. Second Corinthians 5:17 says, “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” We are never too far gone to experience the deep forgiveness of Jesus. In repentance we gain the freedom that He alone offers from our sin. In forgiveness, we experience new life. We become new creations. We become spotless. We become pure. He sees us as lovely.
In closing, what are some areas of your life that you need to repent of? Do you believe God’s promise to forgive you? Are you dwelling on past sins? What snares do you need freedom from? How quickly are you to repent? Does thinking about forgiveness stir your affections for Jesus?
Confidently seek Him. He is faithful to forgive and restore.
You are Growing by Becca Mabry
“You are a very mature young lady.” This was a common phrase that I heard growing up. But what was better for me to hear was, “You’re pretty mature for a 19-year-old.” That was much more accurate. Years down the road it is almost amusing to look back to when I was 19 and think about how I thought I had it all together. While there was some truth that the Lord had matured me in some areas of my life as a 19-year-old, that was just the beginning of my journey. I was growing. I am still growing. I will be growing until the Lord takes me home. However, a part of my identity clung to being “mature.” In times when I stumbled in word, thought, or deed I would think, “If I was mature, why did I do that?” The answer: because I was/am extremely immature.
My dad always says, “You learn something new every day.” And how true that is both with facts and knowledge about our physical world but also about our spiritual lives. Colossians 2 says, “Therefore, just as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.” Just as a tree grows slowly over time, so does our maturity in Christ. We do not become believers and then have it all figured out. Instead, we begin a spiritual journey of maturity that contains victories, failures, and growing pains all along the way.
Fear of the growing pains is something I continue to struggle with. That fear is rooted in my idol of comfort and my lack of trust that God knows best. Despite my temporary dislike of being stretched, God is present in the growing pains. Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” God has purpose in our growing pains. James 1:2-4 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” God loves us too much to leave us were we currently are. He is growing us and maturing us, and He is with us every step of the way.
Second Corinthians 3:18 reminds us that we are not to be stagnant in our spiritual journey. “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit Himself, who FULLY dwells within ALL believers, is the One who continuously transforms us more and more into the image of Christ. If we are seeking Him, it is impossible to become stagnant in our growth. And why would we exchange the opportunity to be changed more and more into the holiness of God for the easy comfort of complacency?
However, it is very easy to become complacent right where we are in our journey of maturity, especially if we are blessed with a season of ease. First Corinthians 14:20 says, “Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature.” God has each of us on a daily journey toward maturity that starts in our thought life.
So, how do we fight against complacency? We strive forward toward maturity, beginning in prayer. Philippians 1:9-10 tells us we pray for our maturity and the maturity of others. “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ.” Colossians 1:9-10 says, “We have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” We need to pray for wisdom and maturity for ourselves and others. James 1:5 encourages us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” Ask for God to give you the desire to grow and mature. Then, in high expectation, ask Him for His abundant wisdom.
You are growing. God will continue to grow you. And while we are continually growing, we must also live in the truth that God loves us right where we are. He loves us no more or no less when we choose comfort over growth. In this moment, right now, with your struggles, with your doubts, with your fears, you are loved. You are known. You are enough. God kindly, graciously, gracefully, and mercifully seeks His sheep. He will correct your heart. He will show you where your heart is straying. Humbly admitting our faults and seeking for the Lord to guide us and grow us magnifies Him.
You are growing. Your identity is in Him.