What does forgiveness mean at Christmas? - Hope 103.2

What does forgiveness mean at Christmas?

Morning Devotions is for those curious about the Christian faith and who want to explore Christian issues that relate to their daily life.

By Chris WittsTuesday 24 Dec 2013Morning Devotions with Chris WittsUncategorizedReading Time: 0 minutes


In the Peanuts comic strip,it’s Christmas and Lucy comes into the room where Charlie Brown is standing and says “Merry Christmas,Charlie Brown. It’s the season of peace on earth and good will toward men. Therefore,I suggest we forget all our differences and love one another”. Charlie’s face lights up ..”that’s wonderful,Lucy. I’m so glad you said that. But tell me – do we have to love each other all year long?” And Lucy replies “what are you – a fanatic or something?”Yes,it is an interesting reply. Can we keep the spirit of love and peace for the other days of the year,apart from this Christmas?

One aspect of Christmas I think is important is the word ‘forgiveness’. Isn’t it a good idea to offer forgiveness now,especially during a season of love and good will?  Let me tell you a true story about a lady who is over 80 years of age. Eleven years ago,her husband died and they had been married for 49 years. But there had been an issue which caused a problem. 48 years ago he had told her a little white lie. She loved him,but she could not let it go – that he had lied to her. And she held onto it for 48 years. Two days before he died,he asked his wife to forgive him – but she couldn’t. He died without any resolution,and for 11 years she has been haunted by the burden of not offering him forgiveness. It worries her that she may die soon. It’s still not resolved.

This sad story makes me realize that while people celebrate Advent,we can look back on our life with remorse..the things we didn’t do that we should have. It’s a self inflicted wound. And that is often the worst kind. I wish I had done that differently .. we let things fester,nurse our grudges,and we end up the loser. This lady is miserable and deeply unhappy. But if I was speaking to her today I would remind her of the word from the Bible ..”The Lord,a God merciful and gracious,slow to anger,and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,keeping steadfast love for thousands,forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” (exodus 34:6-7). Psalm 130: 3-4 “if you kept a record of our sins,no-one could last long. But you forgive us”. Let’s remember that the God of Christmas is a God who forgives. He looks for chances to forgive us because forgiveness is in His nature. Jeremiah said “God forgets our sins and remembers them no more” (Jeremiah 31:34).  And in Psalm 103:12 “God removes our sins as far as the east is from the west”.

The coming of Jesus as a baby in Bethlehem tells us God did something about forgiveness. God sent a child into the world who would meet our deepest needs,a wonderful Counsellor who is the mighty God,the source of all lasting peace. The prophet Isaiah had said “the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,on them has light shined” (9:2). Jesus has come to relieve self inflicted guilt and give you joy instead. He came as our Saviour. An old Christmas carol says “come,thou long expected Jesus,born to set thy people free; from our fears and sins release us,Let us find our rest in Thee”.

Jesus came because we had made such a mess of this world. But He came as a baby,a baby named Jesus,born to save us from our sins. He grew up,and we killed Him,and He was crucified. But He came back from the dead. No-one but God could have done something like that. CSLewis writes “the Son of God became a man to enable men to become the sons of God”. He is the good news of Christmas. It’s because Christ came that you and I can be forgiven even when we have a hard time forgiving ourselves.