When was the last time you were so hurt or frustrated you weren’t sure what was going to come out next? What did you feel? How did it end?
When was the last time you hurt someone and the only thing you could do was ask for forgiveness? How did it feel? Were you forgiven?
Think about it. Jesus was being inflicted with excruciating pain, mocked and ultimately executed. What do you think your first reaction would be when a nail is driven through your hand? Even if by accident, I can’t imagine my reaction would be good!
Consider how full of love and forgiveness Jesus must have been! When being nailed to boards and hung to die, his words were forgiving. Forgiving! Even toward the man driving in the nails, and the criminal being crucified next to him.
Now, focus on the two being crucified with him. One taunts Jesus, telling him to prove he is the Messiah by saving himself, and them too, “while he’s at it.” (See any irony??)
The other recognizes his sin. He asks only for Jesus to remember him as he goes into his Kingdom.
At that moment, Jesus says something amazing; “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” At the end of his life, the criminal had done nothing to deserve such a reply.
Jesus pours out so much love and forgiveness, even in his final moments.
Now, imagine that same love and forgiveness extended to you.
Belong – Because you can belong before you believe.
When someone forgives you, does it affect how you feel you belong? If you knew God forgives you, would it affect how you feel you belong with Him?
Believe – Because those who belong often start to believe.
What does it mean that God forgives you? Can you believe He forgives not because of anything you have done, but only because He loves you?
Become – Because everyone who believes can become someone new.
If you really believe God forgives you, even for yesterday’s sin, does it change how you live? How does His forgiveness inspire what you do with your clean slate today?
Dear God, thank you for the love and forgiveness you have shown in Jesus, even though there is nothing I have done to earn it. Please open my heart to the truth of your personal forgiveness. Show me what it means to belong with you, to personally receive true forgiveness and what life looks like to live forgiven. Through Christ I pray, Amen.