January 8, 2020

Marjorie and Gene joined the church a few months ago. I was absolutely thrilled to have them in the congregation. But last Sunday, I began to wonder if I had made a terrible mistake – not with Gene, he’s solid. But I did begin to have real concerns about Marjorie.

That’s because Sunday after worship, Marjorie handed me a bag filled with broccoli she had harvested from her garden. The broccoli looked beautiful and I was pumped. But then I noticed a leaf in the bag that wasn’t broccoli.

The revolting looking leaf resembled kale but I knew a loving, compassionate Christian would never give kale as a gift. That’s because kale is the grilled liver of the vegetable family.

When I asked Marjorie if that leaf was kale, she brushed it off as if it wasn’t the big deal it was. Suddenly I began to wonder whether I had done the right thing in receiving her into the church. Had I actually allowed a Kale Gift Giving Christian into the congregation, and if I did, could I ever forgive myself? This was where I had to remind myself that forgiveness is not optional.

If God has forgiven my terrible transgressions, who am I to withhold forgiveness? Is my opinion more important than God’s?

I say this because a few years ago, in a counseling session, someone said to me, “God may forgive me but I will never forgive myself.” And yes, while what had happened was bad, I was also keenly aware of this person’s true remorse and repentance. We talked long into the night about the need to forgive ourselves as well as others. It’s God’s will.

So if you ever look at some of the terrible decisions of your life and decide that, even though you know God has forgiven you and you decide you cannot forgive yourself, know that your arrogance is preventing you from being the person God wants you to be.

Life is hard enough already. God is ready and willing to forgive any sin.

John said, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

Accept God’s healing forgiveness and forgive yourself. It’s necessary to become the person God created you to be.

Prayer: Dear Gracious Heavenly God, I am terribly ashamed of things I have said, done, and thought. Please forgive me. Help me to forgive myself and live into the future you have planned for me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Accepting forgiveness and being willing to forgive are the building blocks of a life of faith and love. Try it. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

And just as I have forgiven myself for allowing a Kale Gift Giving Christian into the church, Marjorie has to forgive me for using her in the devotional. She doesn’t have a choice – it’s in the Bible.

I pray your day is filled with joy and laughter.

Tom Robbins