Based in St. Cloud, Minnesota, Growing in Grace is a blog by Pastor Matthew Molesky. His posts explore the Bible, theology, ecclesiology, culture, books, family, and life.

Father, Forgive Me

What might it have looked like for the Pharisee and Religious Expert who had dinner with Jesus (Luke 11:33-54) if, instead of rejecting and hating him and his words, they would have confessed and repented?

Which is to say, what confession and repentance might look like for me.

Father, forgive me for caring more about my appearance before others, instead of what is going on in my heart. Forgive my laziness in keeping clean, keeping my house in order, doing the difficult heart work. Forgive my refusal to seek the bright light of your countenance and the illuminating work of your Spirit to shine and expose and reveal and rebuke.

Father, please forgive me.

 

Father, forgive me for thinking that giving a few dollars, or even many dollars, or even a healthy or respectable percentage of my dollars would be a replacement for the weightier things that you expect of me. That somehow that gives me a pass. Forgive me for using those offerings as an excuse for when you have presented me with needs, saying, "I already gave," "someone else should have the opportunity to help," "you can't really expect me to sacrifice that much." Forgive me for not seeking justice, for not pressing into your love fully, until it costs me, truly costs me; for not caring for the marginalized, the ones at the fringes, the unloved and unlovable, the widow, the poor, the orphan, the defenseless, the one not like me. Forgive me for thinking that 1%, 2%, 5%, 10%, or 23% of my money replaces that.

Father, please forgive me.

 

Father, forgive me for seeking the glorification of myself, for pursuing things like position, status, and the esteem of others. For building my "brand": dropping names, getting close to popular people, flaunting knowledge, looking busy, defining spiritual maturity by activity and achievement, exalting public gifts above the others. Forgive me for my lack of valuing people and building others up: remembering their name, drawing near to the fringe, teaching others, being accessible, defining spiritual maturity by love for others, exalting Jesus as the head of the body, and appreciating the contribution of each member. Father, forgive me for how impure this has made me, defiled by my sin, and for the corrupting effect that this has had upon others: my wife, children, family, friends, and community. (most of this from Journey to the Cross)

Father, please forgive me.

 

Father, forgive me for mis-understanding your ways and commands. For perverting your requirements, and disfiguring your grace. Forgive me for the ways that these misunderstandings have lead to wrong expectations placed upon myself, and on those close to me, those who I love, so that they too, in some ways, maybe without even knowing it, have become confused about the nature of who you are: your character, your attributes, your ways, your nature, and how you relate to your children and all humanity. Forgive me for the countless times I didn't try and help someone as they struggled to understand these things, deeply understand them, longing to please you. And I mean, really help them, really expend myself as they wrestled with what it looks like to live for you, to get into the messiness of their lives, "putting myself out" for someone else, for the sake of someone else, lifting a finger, a hand, my whole being to help.

Father, please forgive me.

 

Father, forgive me for all the times that you have sent someone to proclaim your truth to me, to present the message that exposes and reveals my sin for rebuke and repentance and speaks the good news - and I have rejected the message and the messenger. I was angry at being exposed. I expressed rage at the rebuke. I was defensive about the declaration. I have blood on my hands.

Father, please forgive me.

 

Father, we have denied you by refusing to truly know you. We have betrayed you by keeping our distance. Father, forgive me for being academic in my pursuit of you, for knowing many facts about you, but not really caring to know you. For operating at a surface level, to be satisfied with a shallow experience, heck, to not really seek an experience or relationship at all. Forgive me for the ways - probably most I'm not sure of - forgive me for the ways that this has kept others from you, from an intimate knowledge of you, and entering your kingdom. Forgive me God! Forgive my coldness of heart, my scarcity of emotion, my cerebral focus: without my heart, all of this is empty, all of this is vanity.

Father, please forgive me.

 

But Father, Oh Father,  how grateful I am that when I confess my sins, you are faithful and just to forgive me, and cleanse me of all unrighteousness!

Because of Jesus.

His blood covers all my sin. Were it not for your divine guarantee on this promise, this could not be believed, for it is too good to be true. It is the too-good-to-be-true-est news of all time...but it is true.

 

It is good news.

It is great news!

Your grace is enough!

Your grace is enough!

Your grace is enough....for me.

 

"Come now, let's settle this,"

says Yahweh.

"Though your sins are like scarlet,

I will make them as white as snow.

Though they are red like crimson,

I will make them as white as wool...

I, Yahweh, have spoken!"  (Isaiah 1:18,20)

 

Closing Prayer (from Journey to the Cross)

Blessed Lord Jesus, no human mind could conceive or invent the gospel. Acting in eternal grace, you are both its messenger and its message, lived out on earth through infinite compassion, applying your life to insult, injury, death, that I might be redeemed, ransomed, freed. Blessed be you, O Father, for contriving this way; eternal thanks to you, O Lamb of God, for opening this way, praise everlasting to you, O Holy Spirit, for applying this way to my heart. Glorious Trinity, impress the gospel upon my soul, until its virtue diffuses every faculty; Let it be heard, acknowledged, professed, felt. O unite me to yourself with inseparable bonds, that nothing may ever draw me back from you, my Lord, my Saviour.

Jesus vs. Religion (part 2)

A Morning Song of Praise

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