I will treat them with kindness, even though they are wicked. I will forget their sins" (Hebrews 8:12 CEV)
"As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us"(Psa. 103:12 KJV)
Instructions: From your Lent in a Bag, take out the piece of dissolvable paper. If you don't have Lent in a Bag, just take a small piece of paper. Reflect on the habits you would like to change about yourself, or a sin that you are struggling with. Write it on the paper. After reading the reflection below, place the dissolvable paper in a bowl of water and reflect how it dissolves so you can't read it anymore. Or you can take your piece of paper, tear it into small pieces, and burn them in a very sturdy, large glass mixing bowl. Pour water on the burnt paper when finished. Or if you prefer, simply throw the pieces away in the garbage.
The season of Lent is the perfect time for self-examination. Every day we are called to slow down enough to reflect on our behavior, to think out how we are treating others. We reflect on how we have been treated, and if we are able to fully forgive. If we were to judge ourselves next to the Ten Commandments, would we pass with flying colors? I suspect each of us would find ourselves wanting if we were honest with ourselves and before God.
Look at this list and reflect on it:
- Do not worship any other god than the one true God. All other gods are false gods. Worship God alone.
- Do not make idols or images in the form of God. An idol can be anything (or anyone) you worship by making it more important than God. If something (or someone) has your time, attention and affections, it has your worship. It could be an idol in your life. Don't let anything take the place of God in your life.
- Do not treat God's name lightly or with disrespect. Because of God's importance, his name is always to be spoken of reverently and with honor. Always honor God with your words.
- Dedicate or set aside a regular day each week for rest and worship of the Lord.
- Give honor to your father and mother by treating them with respect and obedience.
- Do not deliberately kill a fellow human being. Don't hate people or hurt them with words and actions.
- Do not have sexual relations with anyone other than your spouse. Respect your body and other people's bodies.
- Do not steal or take anything that doesn't belong to you, unless you have been given permission to do so.
- Do not tell a lie about someone or bring a false accusation against another person. Always tell the truth.
- Do not desire anything or anyone that does not belong to you. Comparing yourself to others and longing to have what they have can lead to jealousy, envy, and other sins. Be content by focusing on the blessings God has given you and not what he has not given you. Be thankful for what God has given you.
We come to realize that we are fragile human beings, prone to sin. 1John 1:8 reminds us: "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" ESV. Understanding this about ourselves, we realize that confession and repentance are daily spiritual disciplines that establishes humility and honesty within us. Furthermore, we know that our human nature is easy to fall into despair, thinking we'll never improve, or the guilt of sin or inability to forgive will never leave our hearts. This is where again, we must turn to the promise of God to us in scripture. Re-read the verses above from Hebrews and Psalm 103. God forgets our sins! God removes us from our sins, as far as the east is from the west. As the water dissolved into water, or the water was reduced to ash, so are the sins we confess before God and ask forgiveness.
We may be tempted to hang on to the pain, the hurt, the guilt. That is part of the human condition. Reflect on this illustration from Christian author Corrie Ten Boom about lingering feelings we have after we are forgiven or we forgive:
Corrie ten Boom told of not being able to forget a wrong that had been done to her. She had forgiven the person, but she kept rehashing the incident and so couldn't sleep. Finally Corrie cried out to God for help in putting the problem to rest. "His help came in the form of a kindly Lutheran pastor," Corrie wrote, "to whom I confessed my failure after two sleepless weeks." "Up in the church tower," he said, nodding out the window, "is a bell which is rung by pulling on a rope. But you know what? After the sexton lets go of the rope, the bell keeps on swinging. First ding, then dong. Slower and slower until there's a final dong and it stops. I believe the same thing is true of forgiveness. When we forgive, we take our hand off the rope. But if we've been tugging at our grievances for a long time, we mustn't be surprised if the old angry thoughts keep coming for a while. They're just the ding-dongs of the old bell slowing down." "And so it proved to be. There were a few more midnight reverberations, a couple of dings when the subject came up in my conversations, but the force -- which was my willingness in the matter -- had gone out of them. They came less and less often and at the last stopped altogether: we can trust God not only above our emotions, but also above our thoughts."
So it is true when we are forgiven or we forgive. If we trust in God, who is faithful to forgive our sins, if we place our desire to be free in his hands, the bell will eventually lose its power to sound and eventually become quiet. Remember that God has already forgotten our sins. When we forgive, the feelings will fade if we remain faithful. We are free! So, remember this as your paper dissolves and burns and experience the release from all that holds us back from being who God has called us to be.