For my new job I have to drive quite a distance, and for some time due to traffic, so I've taken to checking books on CD out from the local county library. Recently I've been listening to a trilogy The Seasons of Grace by Beverly Lewis. These books have got me thinking on some things.
I've been thinking about various relgious groups' approach to sin in the life of their followers. I've never been comfortable with how some groups require their members to do actions, a pentance of some kind, as part of the process of forgiveness. I think of Bible passages such as Titus 3:4-6, 2 Corinthians 5:15-17, Psalm 130:3-5, 1 John 1:4-10 that show God's forgiveness. I see that God is gracious to give us forgiveness based on His character, not on the basis of our deeds or worthiness.
However, I think the concern for many is that if we offer an “easy forgiveness”, that sin and it’s results will be neglected. In retrospect I think that the Christian tradition I’ve lived much of my life around has somewhat done that very thing; or more certainly, I can see how in the past, in my eagerness to emphasize the forgiveness of God, I’ve not always fully dealt with the sin.
The problem with that is that the sin itself does have repercussions. The reason God considers some actions as sin is because they harm ourselves or others. So, even though we can live in His forgiveness and without guilt, we still need to deal with our sin so we can be healthy and mature. We need to look at what went wrong and why, at who all it affected and if there are actions we need to take to make amends to those we’ve hurt by our sin, or if there are changes we need to make in our life to avoid this sin in the future. Sometimes even though forgiveness is given instantly, it may take time for the people whom we have hurt to process through their own emotions before we can re-establish relationships.
All of this takes time and is a process. Yet we live in an instant, micro wave, society. But I can tell you that as I look back on my life and those with whom I’m close, that we never grow and have the kind of life and relationships that we want unless we go ahead and engage in this process; it’s one of those things that must happen sooner or later.
What about you, do you ever struggle with achieving the balance between forgiveness and dealing with sin?