A Primer on Forgiving Others for Lent

Pastor George Borghardt over at Higher Things has an excellent video short on forgiveness, entitled “Forgiving Un-Sorry People.”  The season of Lent is upon us and begins tomorrow with the imposition of ashes tomorrow.  This act of receiving ashes reminds us of our brokenness and our mortality.  We need a Savior to heal the brokenness and raise the dead to life.  For Christians, Lent is a season of reflection and repentance, where we focus on the sacrifice of the Christ on the Cross for our sins.  With repentance comes forgiveness of sins in Christ through his suffering, death and resurrection, forgiveness that is ours through Christ.  In the first of his 95 theses, Martin Luther observed

Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said Poenitentiam agite, willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance.

Forgiveness is an essential part of that life of repentance.  And we forgive those who trespass against us, just as we are freely forgiven.  But who should we forgive? And should we forgive those who are not necessarily sorry for the wrong they have done?  Listen as Pr. Borghardt reflects on forgiving the un-sorry person:

Lenten Reflections, Psalm 6, the First Penitential Psalm

O Lord, Deliver My Life

To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments; according to The Sheminith. 
A Psalm of David.

1 O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger,
nor discipline me in your wrath.
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing;
heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled.
My soul also is greatly troubled.
But you, O Lord—how long?
Turn, O Lord, deliver my life;
save me for the sake of your steadfast love.
For in death there is no remembrance of you;
in Sheol who will give you praise?
6 I am weary with my moaning;
every night I flood my bed with tears;
I drench my couch with my weeping.
My eye wastes away because of grief;
it grows weak because of all my foes.8 Depart from me, all you workers of evil,
for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.
The Lord has heard my plea;
the Lord accepts my prayer.
10 All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled;
they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment.

David has a way of capturing the terror and trouble sin causes us in our lives, how it works on our consciences, daily gnaws away at us.  He recognizes in verse one that he, the King of Israel, is a sinner, and his actions are deserving of discipline and correction.  He is languishing over the wrong he has done.  His “bones are troubled.”  The sin eats into the very core of him – no matter where he is, he cannot escape it.  His guilt, anxiety, and worry sap all his strength.  David feels death and hell close at hand.  There is a separation from God, a gulf becaus of his sin.  David is brought low under the weight of his sin.  Humbled.

But David is sorry for his sins.  What he has done causes him grief and sorrow, leading to physical pain and sleepless nights.  David pleads with the Lord to spare him.  He knows what he has done;  he knows that he deserves punishment;  he knows that he deserves the wrath of God.  God’s words given through His servant David, bring to life what we feel when we are wracked with guilt and sorrow for the wrongs we have committed.  This is the “anfechtungen” of Martin Luther:  the trouble of the conscience that plagues believers.  It is not a wrestling with God, but a battle with our sin – which is always with us – when confronted with the holiness and righteousness of God through the Cross of the crucified Christ.  No matter how good we are, no matter how righteous we are sin remains with us and points to the obvious conclusion that apart from Christ we are dead, helpless and powerless.  It is knowing what one should do, but, time and time again, giving into the desires of the flesh and doing something else.  It is the paradox of being simultaneously a saint and sinner.   It is the Spirit working through the Word of Life, driving us to our knees so that we may repent and call upon God.  Continue reading “Lenten Reflections, Psalm 6, the First Penitential Psalm”