Speaking to the Soul – June 27

God’s forgiveness

They remained standing in place for three hours while the Book of the Law of the Lord their God was read aloud to them. Then for three more hours they confessed their sins and worshiped the Lord their God. Nehemiah 9:3

This was the start of a new chapter for God’s people. It was a time for them to reassess their lives in the light of the Law of Moses. This was an occasion for encouragement because they were reminding themselves of the love and faithfulness of their God, who wanted to live in covenant partnership with them. But it was also a time of deep pain as they were reminded that the people of Israel had a long history of rebellion against God.

Worship should always contain these two elements. As we declare the greatness of God and celebrate his love for us, we are bound also to see our own failures. God doesn’t call us to wallow in our sins or to exaggerate them. He wants to set us free from our shortcomings, but that cannot happen unless we are honest with him. It is, therefore, vital that every act of Christian worship includes both a recognition of our sins and of God’s ability to set us free from them.

On the face of it, it might sound very negative to keep calling to mind the fact that we are sinners, but it is actually the complete opposite. As we identify the ways in which we have failed God, we do so knowing that his longing is for us to enjoy life to the full, and to leave all our sins with him. If we fail to hand our sins over to God, we can be sure that we will continue to drag them – and a sense of guilt – through life. That will, inevitably, prevent us from experiencing the freedom, peace and joy that he wants us to know. So, whenever we hear the words confession and forgiveness, we should gain a lightness of spirit and a huge sense of relief and joy.

In what ways have you experienced the joy of God’s forgiveness?

Thank you, loving God, that you sent Jesus into this world to die for me. Help me to receive your forgiveness and live the liberated life that you want me to live. Amen