"Forgive our sins as we forgive, You taught us Lord to pray; but You alone can grant us grace to live the words we say.
In blazing light Your cross reveals the truth we dimly knew: what trivial debts are owed to us, how great our debt to You!"
I was recently pulled over for driving with expired plates and given a ticket complete with a court date. I then broke both my wrists the day before court and completely forgot to go. So, when I called to find out what I needed to do, I was so nervous I lied.
You see, I did break both wrists this summer, but it wasn't the day before I was supposed to be in court. I just wanted to make myself look better to the person on the other end of the phone who was deciding my fate. What really happened is I've been home with my kids this summer and not checking my calendar.
Thankfully, they had not issued a warrant for my arrest, and I was given another court date which I instantly memorized. I then tried paying the ticket online, but apparently that option doesn't extend to delinquents who miss their first court date. So, I couldn't even figure out how much I owed.
Money doesn't exactly grow on trees in our house, and I was really disappointed with myself for twisting that story about my arms. So, I was super nervous about encountering the judge and the consequences. I knew I couldn't lie again, but I also had no good defense if he asked -- not just about my unregistered plates, but also my missed court date.
Having established the proper spelling of my last name, the first thing he asked me was "How do you plead? Guilty or not guilty?"
I've never been so relieved to be asked such a straightforward question. "I'm guilty!" I exclaimed perhaps more exuberantly than he was used to hearing. And as I began trying to explain all the reasons I was in this predicament, he cut me off and asked, "Are you working on it?" -- and without waiting for my answer -- "Of course, you are. You're an upstanding citizen. Just pay $15 court costs, and we'll consider this done. Okay?"
It was more than okay! I was guilty of not just breaking the law, but of being irresponsible and then lying about it. But he forgave my debt and called me an "upstanding citizen"! It was a Gospel moment to receive a label I did not deserve in exchange for my guilty plea. I was reminded again of the undeserved grace we possess in Christ Jesus.
Do you remember the last time you were forgiven and the sense of freedom and relief you experienced? Friends, that experience is ours to receive from our Heavenly Father every day! Even better, it is ours to give away: to our children, spouse, employees, employers, neighbors, criminals, and friends. None of us are so righteous that we don't still need forgiveness, and to give it is the most Christ-like thing we can do.
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, You're in the business of dispensing grace, and we are so thankful for that! Refresh us when we are weighed down with sin and forget the mercy we've been shown in Jesus. In His Name we pray. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by AmyRuth Bartlett. It is based on the hymn, "Forgive Our Sins as We Forgive," which is found on page 843 in the Lutheran Service Book.
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