Our Sins Removed (03-03-23)
Psalm of Praise: Psalms 111:4-5
The Lord has caused his wonders to be remembered,
he is gracious and compassionate.
He provides food for those who fear him;
he remembers his covenant forever.
Bible Reading: Psalms 103:8-12
The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse, nor will he harbour 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.
When things go wrong in someone’s life I often hear one of two phrases, either ‘These things are sent to try us’ or ‘What have I done to deserve this?’ I’m not sure that King David, who wrote these wonderful words in Psalm 103, would go along with either statement.
David is quite clear that God does not treat us as our sins deserve, for which I am very grateful! If our Holy God were to punish us for every wrong thought, every wrong word and every wrong deed, or if we were disciplined every time we failed to say or do the right thing, we would not survive. Instead God shows us compassion and opens up for us the way to forgiveness.
Nor can I imagine a God who is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love, choosing to send things to try us in some sort of cosmic endurance test. I think social services would have something to say if we tried that with our children.
But things do go wrong in our lives and in the world, problems caused by our own fallen nature, by the fallen nature of others and by the fallenness of the world in which we live, and in this Christians are not given a free pass. What we do get is God’s unbounded love and his unending forgiveness.
I can imagine David as a shepherd boy, alone on the hillside contemplating distance and the vastness of the universe, trying to imagine the furthest point east of him and the furthest point west of him, and seeing this as an image of how far from us God has removed our sin. I can also imagine him contemplating the stars at night in the vast universe and seeing the distance between him and them as representing the height of God's love for his people.
Over the centuries our understanding of the universe has grown and so too, with the coming of Jesus, must our understanding of God's love for us grow.
I wonder what measure you have been using for the extent of God’s love for you and the distance from you that he has removed your sin. May it be as vast as our ever-expanding universe.
When trials come, Lord, remind me of your eternal love,
and when I fail you and others, remind me of you unending forgiveness.