My most embarrassing moment at work happened two weeks ago.
My team and I were on a call, discussing the newest release of our company website. Included on the call was the vice president of my department (aka my boss’s boss’s boss’s boss, aka a big deal).
At some point during the release, there was an error. I unmuted myself to mention it to my team. The vice president made a suggestion to me about the error.
I knew immediately his suggestion wouldn’t really help. I meant to keep that to myself.
But instead I, forgetting I was unmuted, scoffed aloud at his suggestion, insisting, and I quote, “there’s no way”.
I froze. Then I panicked. What did my coworkers think? What did the vice president think? Would he ever forgive me? Would I ever be able to live this down?
As rough at that was, my work call fiasco pales in comparison to some of the things people did in the Bible. We’re only six books into the Bible, and already people have murdered, deceived, attacked, stolen, and so much more.
And some of those culprits are featured today. They’re not on trial. They aren’t getting reprimanded or scolded or punished.
They are receiving a huge inheritance.
This is a mistake. Right?
You are not your history
I never read the name “Simeon” in the Bible without thinking about what he did.
He deceived and then murdered a whole town with his brothers.
He kidnapped and then sold his brother into slavery.
Then he lied to his parents about what really happened to his brother.
And it wasn’t just him.
Reuben slept with his father’s wife. Judah slept with his son’s widow. They were all behind the plot to kidnap and sell Joseph into slavery.
Bottom line, the children of Israel did some terrible things.
And in modern times, a place where the phrases “cancelled” and “cancel culture” are both embarrassingly overused, these men’s names should have been wiped from history. They and their families should have been shunned. Acknowledging or benefitting someone or something that bore their names would be disrespectful, especially to their victims and their victims’ families.
That’s what Simeon and his brothers deserved. But that’s not what they got.
Instead, their names lived on. Their tribes lived on.
It wasn’t because people forgot. It wasn’t because they stopped deserving punishment.
It was because God forgave them.
And in the blink of an eye, all of a sudden, the past was erased. The children of Israel did not need to be ashamed of their past. They did not need to worry how they would be forgiven or how they would live this down.
They were blessed with forgiveness and a future.
You know how they say “forgive, but don’t forget”?
It’s not bad advice. A lot of people don’t change, even after they’ve been forgiven.
So you keep your distance. Things go cold or awkward or just silent between you and the person you offended, or between you and the person who offended you. Even if you do try to forgive and forget, some transgressions are too big. Things will never be the same.
Thank God He doesn’t think like we do.
Simeon and his brothers weren’t just forgiven and left at arms length.
They were forgiven and given an inheritance. They were forgiven and blessed. They were forgiven and reminded of their special place in God’s family. They were forgiven and honored.
When God forgives, He forgives. He doesn’t hold on to a grudge. He doesn’t change the terms of the relationship. He doesn’t get icy and reserved.
He welcomes us back to Him with hugs and warmth. He loves us just as unconditionally as he did before. He blesses us and He helps us and He holds us together.
When we are forgiven by God, we don’t have to worry that things will never be the same. They won’t. They’ll be so much better.
“I want to forgive you. I want to forget your sins forever.”
There is no one on planet earth like our God.
Even though I apologized to my boss’s boss’s boss’s boss, I’ll never know if my rude mistake was truly forgiven.
Even though friends who hurt me may apologize to me, I’ll still be on edge around them, unsure if they’ve really changed.
And even though I might apologize to my family members after fighting with them, the words still hang in their air, and they can’t be taken back or forgotten.
But when we ask God for forgiveness? When we repent and ask Him back into our lives?
Then there’s no question. There’s no shaky ground. Nothing is left up in the air.
So again I say, there is no one in existence like our God.
No one else will love us so unconditionally, forgive us so freely, forget our sins so completely.
So what are we waiting for? What are we afraid of? Ask for forgiveness. Ask honestly. Ask with faith.
And all of a sudden, your past will be erased, with nothing but your future with God shining brightly ahead of you.
What do you think? What does it feel like to be forgiven by God?