Last evening one of my grad students told us about an exercise she does with her third graders. Each student takes a piece of paper and writes down somebody’s name. Under that name they have to write a mean nasty name. Then they have to scrunch up the paper into a ball and sit on it. After a short time the children become physically uncomfortable with what they have done so they can take the paper, spread it out as nicely as they can and erase the nasty name. What the children discover is that no matter how hard they try to make the paper look new. It can’t be done. The wrinkles and the erase mark are still there. The children then talk about what this means.
It’s a good exercise and should be combined with James 3. Words once spoken and deeds done leave permanent results. Forgiveness is real. Forgiveness is powerful. Forgiveness does set a course for a better future. But the reality is humans remember. Relationships betrayed are forgiven but are never again as they were when they were new. This is why Jesus asks us to forgive 70 times 7. He is not necessarily talking about 490 offenses as much as He is talking about the need to forgive someone 490 times for one offense because the human mind remembers.
Now comes the amazing part. When we ask for forgiveness, God’s divine power enables Him to look at us as if we have never sinned. This is awesome. Please note Ephesians 5:27, “He might present to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
Written by Roger Bothwell on October 10, 2008.
Spring of Life Ministry, PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574