I’ve been reading the book of Isaiah lately.  It’s a book of the Bible that is heart-wrenching .  We see a picture of God’s anger and hatred toward sin and wickedness followed by His compassion for his people and extending grace and forgiveness toward them.

God longs to have a personal relationship with every single one of us (yes, including you).  No matter who you are or where you are in life, God desires to have a personal relationship with you.

I love God’s response in Isaiah 1:18, ” ‘Come now, let us argue this out’, says the Lord.  “No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can remove it.  I can made you as clean as freshly fallen snow.  Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you white as wool.”

Yesterday at South Bay Church, Filipe (my husband) talked about forgiveness and reconciliation.  He said that many of us walk around with skeletons [from our past] trailing behind us because we haven’t dealt with them appropriately.  As a result, many of our decisions are molded around that past hurt or mistake and the pain continues to stay with us.

Are you bitter about a situation that happened years or even decades ago?

We ALL make mistakes, NO one is perfect.

How should we respond when we make mistakes?

It’s difficult to admit when we make mistakes, when we hurt someone we love, or when we make selfish choices.  Our immediate reaction is usually to cover it up or just ignore it.  It seems easier at the time, but, like Filipe mentioned yesterday, “God uncovers what we cover, and covers what we uncover.” Go ahead, re-read that again. Psalm 32:5 says, ” Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.  I said, ‘I will confess my transgression to the Lord’- and you forgave the guilt of my sin.”

Confession is huge.  When we confess our sins to God and to those we have hurt, healing comes to our relationship and our guilt is removed.  Once we confess, the next step is to repent and start living differently. In Isaiah, God implored the people to stop their wickedness, to stop the evil things they were doing.

In Isaiah 1:16, God exclaims, “Wash yourselves and be clean!  Let me no longer see your evil deeds.  Give up your wicked ways. [Then he tells them how.] Learn to do good.  Seek justice.  Help the oppressed.  Defend the orphan.  Fight for the rights of widows.”

Maybe confessing isn’t so hard for you, but…

How should we respond when someone wrongs us?

The best example we have is to look at Jesus on the cross forgiving those who put him there.  He took on my sins, he took on your sins, and forgave humanity…and what did we do to deserve it?  Nothing.  The person you need to forgive might not deserve it, but it’s what we’re called to, and by extending forgiveness, we will be healed in the process.

Some of us struggle more in the area of forgiveness while others struggle more in the area of confession.  Christians should be the first to extend forgiveness and to confess their wrongdoings.  There are many Christians who walk around with a self-righteous attitude, and part of the problem is that they don’t see how sinful they really are.  They have this persona about them that they could do no wrong, but they are fooled!  We all make mistakes.  Isaiah 2:11 says, “The day is coming when your pride will be brought low and the Lord alone will be exalted”.

When we are aware of our own sin we are much more likely to forgive because we realize how much we have been forgiven.  Christians should be the first to forgive, and the first to admit when we’ve done wrong.

Can you imagine what could happen if Christians would actually start living this way?  If they confessed their mistakes quickly, forgave those who wronged immediately, and refused to allow bitterness to creep into their hearts?

Plus, isn’t it what we expect in return?