Oct 15

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One of the sweetest thoughts is that of forgiveness! It is learned at an early age and we never outgrow it. If you will “forgive” me I will use a personal story to help make the point. The earliest event I remember wherein I desired forgiveness occurred when I was about five or six years old. These years are like muddy water in my mind, as it is very hard for me to get the years and the events in order. I remember the exact location where it took place, however, and other events that also took place there. One of them was very funny, though it was not so funny at the time, but it will be saved for another time.
The event here took place while I was at my grandmother and step-grandfather’s house just outside of Plainview, AR. My dad and mom had brought me to their house, with whom my younger brother lived. I was of the mind to leave and go with my dad and mom, but for some reason, which I had no understanding, they determined that I was to stay with my grandmother. This made me very unhappy! While I was demonstrating my unhappiness, as an immature child might, my mother trying to make me happy, gave me a pencil and paper to draw on. Needless to say, I was not in the drawing mood and I proceeded to poke holes in the paper! Now this may sound and read like a total innocent action on my part. However, to this day, I wish I could hear my loving mother say, “Son, I forgive you!”
You see, my mother was doing something she knew that I liked to do; something that normally would make me happy! But, I was not going to be happy, no matter what! Yet, this is not the whole story. I wish I could fill those holes up again; I wish that I had never put those holes in that paper in the first place! Why is this little event so important to me? You see my mother would die in a few years and I would never see her again; and I would never hear those loving words: “Son, I forgive you!” Of course, in my mother’s mind there was no need of forgiveness, but in my mind, even to this day, I regret putting holes in that piece of paper!
It was not then, but later, when the act could not be undone that I came to feel the need of forgiveness! It was an event so unimportant by the standard of events, but it is big in my mind and still is! Forgiveness! I can feel with the apostle Paul when he writes, though as we measure things and see things, the event of which I write has no place; but Paul wrote: “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” (1 Tim. 1:15). Paul had been forgiven, but he still remembered the sins he had committed; and in humbleness he saw himself as “sinners; of whom I am chief.” The consequences of some of his sins could not be undone! For he stood by giving his consent as Stephen was stoned to death (Acts 8:1); yet, he “heard” the blessed words, “thy sins be forgiven,” as when Ananias said to him: “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:6). Yes, Saul/Paul arose and was baptized and his sins were washed away: forgiveness!
How sweet the words, “Thy sins be forgiven!” However, standing between sins unforgiven and sins forgiven, is repentance! Standing before repentance is “godly sorrow!” Yes, Paul wrote these words: “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death” (2 Cor. 7:10). Please understand, repentance is not “godly sorrow,” but “godly sorrow worketh repentance!” The “repentance” acceptable to God, is “worked out” by “godly sorrow!” Now, get this please, repentance (metanoia) is “a change of mind,” worked out by “godly sorrow!” A person may “change” his mind, for any number of reasons, but “repentance” that brings about “forgiveness” is produced by “godly sorrow!”
Yes, sweet are the words, “thy sins be forgiven!” How I have wished through the years I could have heard my dear mother say, “Son, I forgive you!” Even though in her mind, no forgiveness was necessary! However, when we sin against God, forgiveness is absolutely necessary! Unforgiven sin stands between us and salvation now and later eternal salvation!

Frank R. Williams

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