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The Joy of Forgiveness

By Megan Evans

Imagine you are fresh out of college. You start scrambling to find a job because you know that soon you will receive one of the worst bills you can ever imagine: student loans. You start thinking to yourself, “How will I repay this debt?” and “Will my part-time job cover that many zeroes?”

Now imagine you are walking down the street pondering these questions when a man stops you and says, “Hello, I want to pay off all of your student debt. No questions asked. No repayment needed.” 

Your reaction would look a lot like jumping up and down, thanking the man, and probably shedding some tears. All of the massive amount of debt you just received: gone. 

Not to sound trite, but this is exactly what Jesus did for us on the cross. In no way does this analogy have the same weight as what Christ did for us with our debt, but I want to show the skewed perspective we sometimes have when it comes to our eternal versus earthly debt.

It starts and ends with the joy of our forgiveness. 

Hidden in Christ

First we will examine a way that Scripture talks about finding joy in our forgiveness: being hidden in Christ. 

How joyful is the one
whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered!

How joyful is a person whom
the Lord does not charge with iniquity
and in whose spirit is no deceit! (Psalm 32:1-2 CSB)

David describes our sin being covered in Christ, literally hidden from our record. This person that is covered in Christ is joyful, knowing that the Lord does not charge him with any of his wickedness before having a union with Christ. David then describes what happens when we try to hide our sins ourselves:

When I kept silent, my bones became brittle
from my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was drained
as in the summer’s heat. (Psalm 32:3-4)

Hidden in Christ’s forgiveness: joy. Trying to hide our own sins: groaning, depleted strength, drained.

We wouldn’t go back to the man that paid our student debt and say, “I know my debt is paid for, but now I’m going to try to pay for it myself. I’ve got this. I don’t need you.” That would be silly and would make no sense since there was no debt to pay back any longer.

So why do we do this with Christ? Why do we view our earthly debt differently than our eternal debt?

No Performance Necessary

We view this debt differently because we don’t believe that someone could take away such a massive, filthy amount of debt. Even further, we don’t believe that someone would want to do so.

We can wrap our minds around an amount of money. But it is much harder to comprehend an infinite amount of shame, guilt, greed, lust, abuse, and pain willingly taken on by another person.

Fully man. Fully God. Christ did this for us.

Tim Keller in The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness says,

“Do you realize that it is only in the gospel of Jesus Christ that you get the verdict before the performance?”

It is only in Christ that the debt is paid for before we could ever perform. And once we believe in this forgiveness, the performance isn’t necessary. Our debt is clean, wiped away, forever gone, without us needing to repay Him. Because after all, you can’t possibly repay a debt that has already been paid for. 

David ends Psalm 32 appropriately saying, 

Many pains come to the wicked,
but the one who trusts in the Lord
will have faithful love surrounding him (Psalm 32:10) 

We can find complete joy in our eternal debt being washed away by trusting in the Lord. Financial debt taken away by all means provides joy, though a temporary kind. However, trusting that our every sin has been taken away by a kind and loving Savior provides us eternal joy, with “faithful love surrounding him.” This is the type of love you can rest in. The type of love that meets you with outstretched arms. 

Be glad in the Lord and rejoice,
you righteous ones;
shout for joy,
all you upright in heart. (Psalm 32:11)

Take a moment to thank the Lord for what he has done for you. Rejoice. Shout for joy. We don’t have to work for our debt to be paid, groaning away while covering our sins on our own. No matter the trial, we always have the promise that we are the “righteous ones” covered in his grace and mercy.

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God Knows Us

By Megan Evans

I’m really forgetful. I forget to take my medicine, I forget to give people back things I’ve borrowed, I forget to return phone calls – the list could go on and on. But I’ve been learning lately what I am most forgetful of and it’s the most worrisome of them all.

I forget who God is. 

I have all this head knowledge of who he is and could easily spout it out to you like familiar song lyrics. But do I really and truly believe who it is that I’m speaking to when I start to pray? When I worship? When I tell a friend what he is doing in my life? Or do I let routine rule my heart?            

I needed and will always need a reminder of who God truly is and how he cares for his children. Thankfully, he has revealed everything we need to know of him on this side of glory in his living and active Word.

The God Who Sees

So she named the LORD who spoke to her: “You are El-roi,” for she said, “In this place, have I actually seen the one who sees me?” (Genesis 16:13 CSB). 

Hagar was a woman weighed down with her circumstances. She was pregnant with Abram’s first son, Ishmael, and Abram’s wife was hateful toward Hagar and mistreated her because of it. While we could dive into a lot in this story, what is important to notice is what happens when Hagar runs away from these circumstances. I don’t know the exact thoughts going through her head when she ran away, but I can assume that she was filled with dread, fear, and worry of the future. She had just run away from everything she had ever known, a slave pregnant with another woman’s husband.

But God sees her.

It says in verse 7 that “The Angel of the Lord found her.” God comes to her in the form of an angel and talks with her. He meets her where she is and lets her speak what is on her heart. Because of this, Hagar calls him “El-roi” or “God Sees Me.” The ESV says “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”

I forget that God sees me and looks after me. Often when I pray, I feel like I’m praying to the air or saying words aloud to myself. I have to reshape my thoughts and heart, remembering people like Hagar, to remind myself that I am praying to a real, living God who not only hears every word and thought, but cares to. He sent an Angel of the Lord to Hagar and he sent his only Son to die for me to prove it.

The God Who Knows

Lord you have searched me and known me.

You know when I sit down and when I stand up;

you understand my thoughts from far away.

(Psalm 139:1-3 CSB)

Where can I go to escape your Spirit?

Where can I flee from your presence?

(Psalm 139:7 CSB)

We all have a desire to be known. We want our parents to notice us hit our first t-ball. We want our best friend to watch us slide down the slide for the first time in the park. We want to be a part of the homecoming court so everyone in school knows our name.

No one has to teach us how to want to be known. God knows us in a very different, intimate way though. He knows every thought. He is able to search our hearts.

We can’t escape his Spirit or his presence and we don’t want to. God’s presence in our lives today is a very real person that walked on this earth, Jesus Christ. When Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose for us to be with him again one day, it was to bring us into relationship with the Father.

The gap that sin created was fully taken on Jesus’ bloodstained body. When God looks at us, he sees his Son, so we no longer have to fear that he sees our guilt and shame but can rejoice that he sees a perfect Savior. 

I can convince myself that there are a lot of things in this world that can fully know and see me, but each leaves me broken and empty. I’ve convinced myself that my boss’ approval at work is the way to be seen. I’ve convinced myself that people on social media know who I am through my posts.

I’ve convinced myself that buying enough clothes and things will get people to notice me. I’ve convinced myself that sex outside of marriage was how to get someone to fully know me.

I have forgotten and will continue to forget who God is. 

But praise the Lord that he has not forgotten me. He sees me and allows me to have a relationship with him, just like Hagar, no matter my shameful past. He has searched me and known me, just as David spoke of in his psalm. He has seen me at my worst – apart from him. Yet he still wants a relationship with me and has graciously given me that chance through his Son. 

He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21 CSB)

Thank you, God, for becoming sin for us through Christ. Thank you for giving us your righteousness.

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