Categories
forgiveness

God Must Be So Mad at Me

I’ve made so many mistakes…

Tax collectors may not be too popular these days, but in Bible times they were hated,  loathed, and greatly feared.

Jesus lived in an area governed by Rome, and Rome wanted lots of income from taxes. To maximize the amount collected, the Romans contracted Jews to collect taxes from the Jewish people. These tax collectors were given power to collect any amount of taxes and they kept much of it for themselves. If people wouldn’t or couldn’t pay, they could be forced to sell their children as slaves or even be killed.

Not surprisingly, tax collectors in that time and place were despised as traitors, thieves, and murderers.

In Matthew 9:9, Jesus encountered a tax collector: “As Jesus left Capernaum he came upon a tax-collecting station, where a traitorous Jew was busy at his work, collecting taxes for the Romans. His name was Matthew…”

Jesus knew the evil propagated by the Jewish men who collected taxes for Rome. He had every reason to be angry with Matthew, to call him out for his betrayal, his greed, and his abuse of his kinsmen in order to line his own pockets.

Was Jesus furious? Did he angrily call Matthew a traitor? A thief? No, Jesus wasn’t mad. He called Matthew to come and follow him. Matthew immediately left his tax collection station and followed Jesus. This vile tax collector went on to write the book of Matthew.

The religious people of the time were appalled and outraged, asking why Jesus would associate with low-life tax collectors. Jesus answered, “…Healthy people don’t need to see a doctor, but the sick will go for treatment” (Mark 9:12).

People don’t make God angry. Sin makes God angry.

God looks at sin like we look at a cancer that attacks the body of someone we love. We aren’t angry at that person. We don’t hate that person. We love the person, but we hate the cancer. We want to get rid of the cancer so the person we love will be healthy.

Just as we want our loved ones to be healthy, God wants us to be healthy. He is grieved at the sin in our lives because he knows it makes us spiritually unhealthy. He provided forgiveness, cleansing, and salvation at great cost to himself in order to free us from sin.

God isn’t mad at you. He doesn’t hold grudges. God loves you deeply and completely. “The way a loving father feels toward his children—that’s but a sample of your tender feelings toward us, your beloved children, who live in awe of you” (Psalm 103:13). Reject the idea that God is angry at you and eager to judge and punish you. That’s a lie from the enemy. Instead, believe the truth—God loves you tenderly, completely, and always.

Dear God, I accept your great love for me. In the past, I have believed you were angry at me, waiting to judge and punish me. Remove this lie from my heart and my mind. Replace it with faith in the greatness of your love for me. Help me love you with all my heart, soul, and mind. Help me love others the way you love me. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Categories
forgiveness

Like It Never Even Happened

Do we still feel guilt for sins God has forgiven?

Have you ever heard of Wite-Out™? I’m pretty old, so I remember it well. In a world with no word-processing software, Wite-Out™ allowed you to cover a mistake with correction fluid and then type over it instead of throwing away the document and starting over.

Of course, it didn’t make the mistake go away. The mistake was still there—it was just hidden. With word processing, one keystroke erased the mistake forever.

Isaiah 1:18 says, “Come now and let’s deliberate over the next steps to take together…” The word translated as, “deliberate,” means to judge, to convict or clear. It is a judicial word and implies deliberation in a court with a decision pending as to whether the defendant is guilty or innocent.

In God’s courtroom, we all stood guilty. We couldn’t even make a case to defend ourselves. Our only hope was to throw ourselves on the mercy of the court.

The verse goes on to say, “Yahweh promises you over and over: ‘Though your sins stain you like scarlet, I will whiten them like bright, new-fallen snow! Even though they are deep red like crimson, they will be made white like wool!’”

Instead of the guilty verdict we deserved, he offered us grace, mercy, and complete forgiveness of our sins.

The word “scarlet” referred to a cloth that had been dyed twice, making the stain permanent. Washing wouldn’t get rid of the stain. No amount of scrubbing could budge it. It would take a miracle to return the twice-dyed scarlet cloth to its original white color.

A miracle is exactly what we received. Our sins aren’t just hidden or covered over with Wite-Out™. Our sins are completely removed, just like someone pushed the “delete” button. Through the blood of Jesus, the permanent stains of our sins are gone and we are returned to our original stain-free condition, beautiful and glittering like new-fallen snow.

When our sins are forgiven, our record is expunged. In God’s eyes, our sins disappear. It’s as though they never even happened.

Sometimes we bring those sins back up and rehearse the guilt and shame in our minds. We beat ourselves up for something God has declared forgiven and dismissed. Maybe God knew we would do this, because he reminds us again in Isaiah 43:25, “I, yes I, am the One and Only, who completely erases your sins, never to be seen again. I will not remember them again. Freely I do this because of who I am!”

Our sins, our mistakes, our regrets—God doesn’t see them any longer. He doesn’t even remember them. Why do we feel guilt about that which God has forgiven? We are no longer condemned. We are righteous. The past belongs in the past. We can move our focus off the mistakes in our past and place our focus on the glorious future God has prepared for us.

Dear God, thank you for forgiving my sins. It’s so awesome that you don’t even remember them. You aren’t holding a grudge against me. You aren’t angry with me. You love me so deeply. Help me forgive myself just as you have forgiven me. In Jesus’s name, amen.