Micah 7:18 – 20 (MSG) Where is the god who can compare with you-wiping the slate clean of guilt, turning a blind eye, a deaf ear, to the past sins of your purged and precious people? You don’t nurse your anger and don’t stay angry long, for mercy is your specialty. That’s what you love most. And compassion is on its way to us. You’ll stamp out our wrongdoing. You’ll sink our sins to the bottom of the ocean. You’ll stay true to your word to Father Jacob and continue the compassion you showed Grandfather Abraham— Everything you promised our ancestors from a long time ago.
It’s getting to be “that” time again for me…spring cleaning! I think it was last year during a “spring cleaning frenzy” that I was reminded of a very important truth about forgiveness. My husband and I were in MAJOR spring cleaning mode. We busied ourselves by categorizing stuff into piles; keep, sell, donate. To drown out the silence, we listened to a random PANDORA channel. The songs that played were some we hadn’t listened to in years and we cheerfully sang along to help pass the time. I was having a blast singing and dancing along to the music until one song stopped me dead in my tracks and reminded me of how thankful I am for the way God forgives.
The lyrics to Garth Brooks’ song “We Bury the Hatchet” took on an entirely different meaning to me as I listened to the words. I have included the lyrics below for those of you who may not know them:
“We bury the hatchet
But leave the handle stickin’ out
We’re always diggin’ up things
We should forget about
When it comes to forgettin’
Baby, there ain’t no doubt
We bury the hatchet
But leave the handle sticking out”
As I listened, I was incredibly thankful that when God forgives us “he sinks our sin to the bottom of the ocean” (Micah 7:19). Have you ever thought about how deep the ocean actually is? When I think about God “burying my sin” in the depths of the sea, there is no way possible for the handle to be left “stickin’” out. For this fact I am truly thankful. God won’t throw things back in my face. Once my sins are forgiven, they are forgiven. End of story.
The thought also reminded me of Psalm 103:8-12 (NIV) which says “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
As humans we aren’t always like that are we? I mean like Garth Brooks’ song, we may “bury the hatchet” but all too often there may be a part, or all, of the handle sticking out. Am I rowing the boat by myself here or is anyone rowing with me? Is there anyone out there who says that they forgive someone and then something happens and “BAM!” the past hurt rears its ugly head again and you have to “forgive” the person all over again?
Forgiveness, true forgiveness, is essential. Just as Christ has forgiven us (he hurls our iniquities into the depths of the sea & he has removed our transgressions as far as the east is from the west), we also have to forgive those who have hurt, or sinned against (Matthew 6:12), us. Matthew 5: 23 – 24 (MSG) also tells us “If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.”
As much as it depends on us, we are to live at peace with everyone (Romans 12:18). Once you forgive…move on…bury the entire hatchet. Then, there will be no handle to go back and dig up.