The Food of Forgiveness

“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
    whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
    and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
    through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
    my strength was dried up  as by the heat of summer. 

I acknowledged my sin to you,
    and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’
    and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.” Psalm 32:1-5

“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
    wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow...
Hide your face from my sins,
    and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right spirit within me…
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    and sinners will return to you.
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
    O God of my salvation,
    and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
O Lord, open my lips,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.” Psalm 51:7,9-10,12-15

“He said to him a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep…. Follow me.'” John 21:16-17,19c

Much is bereft in the unforgiven heart. When we hold on to unconfessed sin it spreads its ugly gangrene through the body, making miserable and sick, consuming vitality and joy, entrenching in every space and starving out kindness, willingness, a servant spirit. Betrayal of our Master is soul-depleting, a thief of emotion, will, and holy energy.

But confession greeted with forgiveness, and the exquisite restoration the Lord alone gives, make way for the poisoned heart to be cleansed and refilled with all that is good and pleasant. Where once was a brute beast consumed with self, there is a freed captive eager and willing to feed God’s sheep. The glut of guilt and self-absorption becomes a flow of love, compassion, praise, and service. Merciful God feeds the forgiven to enable sharing grace with others.

Have I felt empty, barren of fruitfulness and apathetic toward the needy? What is holding me back from spiritual vitality? Are there sins of others I have not forgiven, or of my own I need confess to the Lord? How could the rich fruit of God’s cleansing mercy applied to me inspire sharing my glad experience, offering the heavenly fruit of hope and salvation to the hungry? With whom will I open my lips with gospel instruction or praise?

Father, help me receive full forgiveness from You and pass along the joys and hope of salvation. May I faithfully feed Your sheep with the love and truth that abound to me in Christ, to His glory.

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