Summary: As Christians, we often work hard at forgiving others; we need to learn to accept God’s forgiveness of ourselves.
Let’s open our bibles this morning to Psalm 103. In this Psalm, David is praising God for his tremendous love for His people. We’ll come back to this in just a minute.
Now, we all know that David wasn’t perfect. Let’s take a look at one of his most famous stories. One day he sent his men off to battle while he stayed behind. He sees a woman named Bathsheba bathing on a rooftop and sends for her. They lay together and the woman becomes pregnant. So David sends for her husband, Uriah, to come home so that he can try to get him to sleep with his wife Bathsheba to cover up what he had done. Instead, Uriah sleeps at the door to the king’s house because the men were in the field and he felt that he should not be so privileged. David tries again, but Uriah still refuses to go home to lay with his wife. So, David sends Uriah back to the battlefront with a note sent to Joab saying that Uriah should be move to the front line of the fiercest battle so that he would be killed. This is done and word gets back to David that Uriah is now dead. So, David sends for Bathsheba and marries her.
That is the shortened version of the story, and there is more to it, but I wanted to use this as an illustration of something very bad that David had done. He committed adultery, got the woman pregnant, tried to cover it up, and when that failed, he had the woman’s husband killed and then went and married her.
But, we know that David is also known as a “Man after God’s own Heart.” Why is that? Read Psalm 103 and you’ll have the answer. For now, we’re going to look at verse 12. “As far as the East is from the West, So far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
A couple of months ago, I was in here listening to Ken preach and one of the things that he was talking about was how God forgives us of our sins and casts them away as far as the East is from the West; as far as the depths of the deepest ocean. Now I ask you today, how many of you are out there in the ocean with our fishing nets and poles hanging on to the guilt of sin? How many are still carrying around the guilt of something you’ve done that you haven’t allowed yourselves to be forgiven for?
How many people have ever carried around a loaded rucksack? Something so loaded down you could hardly pick it up. How easy would it be for you to run a marathon with something like that on your back? Not very easy, right?
But for some reason, that is what a lot of us are trying to do today. We are carrying around guilt for one thing or another in our lives and it just weighs us down. God doesn’t want that for us! He wants us to run the good race, right?
One of the problems that we as Christians have is accepting forgiveness. We can offer it to others, we can ask God for it for ourselves, but often times we never forgive ourselves or allow ourselves to be forgiven.
Sometimes what we do is we come into the sanctuary on a Sunday morning and we worship, we pray, we feel God’s presence and allow him to touch us. We ask for His forgiveness and thank him knowing that we’ve been forgiven. We drop our burdens and we feel renewed. Then what happens is the service concludes and we start heading toward the door. We shake some hands, talk a little bit with our friends, hang out in the cafeteria and have some cake and coffee. Then we start to leave and just as we get to the door, we reach down and pick up the burden that we just dropped off. A lot of times, we don’t do it on purpose; we do it out of habit. We are so used to living with the burden, with the guilt, that we don’t allow ourselves to be relieved of it. We drag it right out the door with us and we begin another weeklong journey of just trying to make it to the next Sunday without adding any additional weight to our pack.
Brothers and Sisters, that is NOT how God wants us to live; that is NOT what God wants for our lives. What we need to do is accept and trust that God has forgiven us. We need that in our lives if we are going to be able to step out into what God has called us to do. Matthew 11:28 tells us “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”