FORGIVENESS: THE ESSENTIAL INGREDIENT OF JOY
Joy is that deep settled confidence
that God is in control of every area of my life.
– Paul Sailhamer
THE PASSAGE – PSALM 51
This morning’s reflection is so simple, so central, and impossible without God’s grace.
Forgiveness is the essential ingredient to joy. Not an essential element – the essential ingredient. Resentment or shame are joy killers.
Remember David’s profound moral failure against Bathsheba and Uriah? Psalm 51 is the prayer David wrote seeking God’s forgiveness. One line is a prayer I repeat over and over again: “Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation”. The conditions for this joy? — that God forgives, creating a clean heart in us and renewing a right spirit.
I wonder if you have fully accepted the forgiveness of God in the cross of Jesus?
I wonder if you have forgiven others as Jesus has forgiven you?
In a season of high stress, it is super easy to allow resentment to build up against God or others – it is very easy, to our shame, to treat others badly.
In the presence of God, we are forgiven –
nothing stands between Him and us;
but we cannot feel His presence
if anything is allowed to stand between ourselves and others.
– Dag Hammarskjöld
Allowing Psalm 51 to guide our prayers today, we ask the Holy Spirit to bring to mind areas that cry out for forgiveness in our own lives, places we are compelled to ask for forgiveness from others, and the grace to forgive others as God in Jesus has forgiven us.
THE PRACTICE: FORGIVE AND REMEMBER …
In the shadow of my hurt,
forgiveness feels like a decision to reward my enemy;
but in the shadow of the cross,
forgiveness is merely a gift
from one undeserving soul to another.
– Andy Stanley
We hear the phrase “forgive and forget” – I wonder how that works for you? Here is something to put into practice today (This joy practice is not a focused amount of time later in the day, it is intentional pauses throughout the day. Joy and forgiveness go hand in hand.):
When we are wronged or slighted by others, or when we act or speak in ways that trespass against God and really need forgiveness — remember. Remember the story of the Prodigal Son – or Jesus’ words from the cross – or someone who forgave you when you flat out did not deserve it. Train your heart and mind to take a turn into remembrance immediately when resentment or shame surface. Then ask God’s forgiveness or ask for the grace to forgive. That turn into remembrance is the way of salvation, the turn to restored joy.
Questions For Reflection
1. In Psalm 51, David asks God to restore the joy of his salvation. He knew that only by the grace of God could he admit his guilt and find forgiveness. Have you fully accepted the forgiveness of God in the cross of Jesus? Has your joy been restored?
2. We need God’s grace to be able to offer forgiveness to others and to have our joy restored. Have you asked God for grace to enable you to forgive others as God in Christ has forgiven you?
3. Do you believe that forgiveness is the essential element to finding joy? Can you pause throughout the day to check in with God, and ask for grace to accept and to offer forgiveness when needed? Then ask Him for that joy only He can give.
Pastor Brenner is a Pacific Northwest native. Laurie has served churches in Seattle, Vashon Island, Scotland, and Paris. After completing her Ph.D. in New Testament Studies at Durham University (England), Laurie returned to the classroom, teaching at Seattle Pacific University and Fuller Seminary until the fall of 2018, when she accepted the call to be Senior Pastor at West Side. She and her husband, David, love walking their dog in West Seattle, traveling, reading, and especially spending time with their grown kids (Emma and Jeremy) and many nieces and nephews.