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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.

Posted by Megan Evans with

What Does Reconciliation Actually Look Like?

By Whitney Nadeau

Relationships are hard. 

That is an understatement.

Relationships are trying, exhausting, painful, distressing, and laborious. Between sibling rivalry (Genesis 2:8, Genesis 37:18-28), broken friendships (Job 4-31, Luke 22:59-62), marital strife (Genesis 3:12), and racial dissention (Galatians 2:11-14), it is evident that there is something awry in mankind’s ability to do relationships.

But the difficulty in relationships does not come as a surprise. When Adam and Eve chose to go against their original design (image bearers of God) and purpose (to glorify God), they did so by going against God and one another. While some of us outwardly are better at keeping the peace than others, “we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath” and “at that time separated from Christ” (Eph. 2: 3;12). It makes sense that children of wrath aren’t the best at relationships. 

We all were hostile in nature toward God and are hostile toward one another.

Much of our pain is rooted in relational breakdown, whether between man and God or among men. I have been meditating through 2 Corinthians 5 this past month, realizing how central the gospel is to even being able to do relationships. 

I have been humbled by the understanding that without restoration to God through Christ, I could never be reconciled to those I have hurt and to those who have hurt me. 

Without the forgiveness bought by Christ’s death on the cross,

Without the Spirit in me because of Christ’s resurrection,

I would remain isolated from God and would follow a perpetual path of isolation from others.

Paul describes the gospel as the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5: 18) for the reason that Christ’s life, death, and resurrection restored mankind to God and made it possible for us to be continuously restored to one another. 

Reconciled to God 

Reconciliation is the restoration of relationship and opportunity for peace where there was once dissention, hostility, and isolation. Biblically, reconciliation includes the removal of the transgression that set man against God through Christ’s death in our place.

We were once slaves to sin, bound to another master. Many of us did not even notice the hostility our sin projected toward God

But God knew that our relationship with Him was not as it should be.

And so, God moved toward us through His Son’s sacrifice and made it possible without our help for a reconciled relationship. We could not make ourselves clean enough, pure enough, righteous enough to move toward God for reconciliation. We could not atone enough, sacrifice enough, and earn enough to be absolved of our debt. But Christ, was clean, pure, and righteous in our place to make possible a restored relationship with God.

“In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5: 19). 

Reconciled to One Another

Once we are reconciled to God, we are called to be reconciled to one another. Because we are reconciled to God and because we are being restored in the likeness of Christ, we have the necessary Spirit to do relationships as God intended. Jesus places a relationship with God and a relationship with one another as the two most important commandments

“’And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (2 Corinthians 5:19)

While God did the work to reconcile us to ourselves, we are called with His Spirit to move toward reconciliation with one another. 

DA Carson observes:

The reason there are so many exhortations in the New Testament for Christians to love other Christians is because . . . the church itself is not made up of natural “friends.” It is made up of natural enemies. What binds us together is not common education, common race, common income levels, common politics, common nationality, common accents, common jobs, or anything else of that sort [that bind most other groups of people together]. Christians come together not because they form a natural collocation, but because they have all been saved by Jesus Christ and owe him a common allegiance. In this light we are a band of natural enemies who love one another for Jesus’ sake.

We will have conflict within and outside of the church.

But Paul exhorts, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18). 

Because a reconciled relationship with one another points to the reconciled relationship with God.

If you are interested in reading about biblical steps to conflict and forgiveness, I suggest these two books as a start:

Pursuing Peace: A Christian Guide to Handling Our Conflicts by Robert Jones

Unpacking Forgiveness by Chris Brauns