I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.(Psalm 32:5)

The word “forgive” in Hebrew helps us to picture what the action really is – the one who forgives bears the cost of the one who owes the debt.  What is the debt?  We have a difficult time with words rarely used in our culture.  We better understand guilt rather than iniquity, rebellion instead of transgression, and imperfection rather than sin.  But forgive is a term we use quite a lot without really thinking about what the word implies.  We tend to think of forgiveness only as a blessing to the one forgiven and not as a cost to the one doing the forgiving!  David understood this and captured it in poetry unlike anyone before him in human history, at the same time feeling the weight of his emotional guilt for the outright rebellion in his heart towards God and yet still fully understanding that it was God who took that weight. The word forgive is, perhaps, something we have become too familiar with as “letting someone off the hook.”  We often tend to underestimate the impact of our mistakes on others; “oh, so-and-so is just being too sensitive, they need to get over it!”  Are we really in any place as the one who commits the error (and in most cases barely see it as an error to begin with) to estimate the cost of the damage?  How much imperfection does it take to make something no longer perfect?  We were created in the image of God.  We know instinctively, because we feel the guilt of it without ourselves, that we do not measure up to that perfect image and that we make mistakes, errors, and imperfections.  More often than not, we make matters worse when we cover that over to hide it.  The best we can do is seek grace when we offend others, why should this not be true of God also?  But we cannot undo the imperfection.  Instead, the only way for an imperfect person to stand before a Holy God is for a perfect person to take their place.  When God “bears the cost” of forgiving us, he alone is qualified to stand there as a perfect substitute for our imperfection, rebellion, and failures.

Dialogue Questions:

    • What do you think of the word guilt – do you ever experience this?
      • What causes guilt?
      • Can we still be guilty if we do not feel guilty?
      • If we are forgiven of something, do we still feel guilty for it?
    • We tend to think of sin as moral failure only, rather than the whole scope of our mistakes and imperfections. How does your view of God’s Holiness change if you honestly admit making mistakes and being imperfect?
    • Why does forgiving us cost God anything?  Why did it actually cost Him everything and not just a little bit?

Things to Pray about:

    • Spend some time this week in prayers of thanksgiving, just resting in the fact that God is gracious to us when we do not deserve it.  Pray for the others you know that really need to rest in grace.