The purpose of forgiveness

By Steven L. Anderson, Grace Covenant Church

You are facing the beginning of another hot, summer week. The weather forecasts put the highs in the 90s, accompanied by equally high humidity. As you are trying to figure out how much water you’ll need to drink each day to stay hydrated, the phone rings. It’s a friend with a cabin on a lake. They just got a new outboard motor and they’re calling to invite you and your family to join them at the cabin for the weekend to enjoy the lake. You say “yes” before they finish asking. You can just imagine the coolness of the lake water and the fun you’ll have out on the lake in your friend’s boat, powered by their new outboard motor.

You spend Thursday evening packing up swimsuits, towels, sunscreen, insect repellant, fishing poles, the tackle box, and plenty of food. You manage to get off work early on Friday, pile the family in the mini-van and head up to the lake, arriving about 5 p.m. It’s hot out and you’re looking forward to getting out on the lake. Your friend welcomes you with a smile and you say, “Let’s put the new outboard motor of yours to good use and get out on the lake!” “Sure,” responds your friend and you walk down to the lake. You notice the dock, do not see a boat, and right about the time you’re going to ask about the location of the boat your friend speaks with pride in his voice, “There it is, there’s my new outboard motor!” And there, laying on the beach in the shade, is a brand new outboard motor. “Where’s the boat?” you ask. “I didn’t say I had a boat, I said I had a new outboard motor,” answers your friend. “Do you mean to tell me that you don’t have a boat?,” you ask. “No, I got the motor, I don’t need a boat. The motor is the most expensive part,” clarifies your friend. As the sweat runs down your back and beads up on your face you ask, “Do you mean to tell me that you invited me up to the lake to look at an outboard motor laying on the beach? I want to get out on the lake! You need a boat!!!”

Everyone knows that the purpose of an outboard motor is to power a boat. But we’re not always so clear about why God offers to forgive us through His Son, Jesus Christ. Sometimes we think God just likes to forgive us, He is good at and likes forgiving, so it’s not a big deal if we keep sinning or doing wrong, even on purpose, because God likes to forgive. After all, isn’t that what being a Christian is all about? Forgiveness is just the beginning. If we think forgiveness is all God has in store for us, it’s like our friend who got a new outboard motor and set it on the beach in the shade. What use is it? When we come to God through faith in Jesus Christ, God forgives our sins so that we can have a new life. The purpose of an outboard motor is to power a boat. The purpose of God’s forgiveness is to power a new life of serving God, a new life of being able to choose to do what is right. God’s forgiveness is just the beginning of His work in our lives. See the New Testament book of Romans, chapter 6, verses 1 through 14 for more details.

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