Available: Forgiveness

She trusted them.  They stole from her.  They thought they had fooled her.  They didn’t.  They created a story of untruths.  What started out as an act of goodwill ended up with stolen treasures, lies, loss of trust and possible loss of friendship.  Was it worth it?  Was it worth the risk to take things belonging to another?  Things that weren’t yous?  For what?  A few dollars?

Now when they see each other, and they will, they’ll remember.  They both will.  The thief and the victim.  They’ll avoid each other.  Unable to look each other in the eye.  They’ll both be uncomfortable.  For different reasons.  Ruined friendships for their children.  All because of greed.  All because of wanting more.  All because of wanting what others have.  Was it worth it?

Then there’s the punishment.  What’s appropriate?  Confront them?  Press charges?    How do you really prove guilt without finding the stolen objects?  Deep down, you know who took the items.  You just can’t prove it.  How do you confront an injustice when you can’t really prove it?  But deep down, deep down you know.  And they know you know.

Imagine the fear of getting caught.  Imagine the stories the guilty have had to create.  Imagine the strain on relationships of those who are guilty.  A mother and child.  Both involved.  Why would the mother put that stress on her child?  Why would she lead her child down a path of wrongdoing?  Were they that desperate?  If so, don’t they know help is available?  Would they accept help?  Wouldn’t the fear of getting caught and being punished be more embarrassing than asking for help?

Have they done this before?  Perhaps this wasn’t the first time they had taken from others.  Perhaps they have a history of unpunished wrongdoing.  Have they taken advantage of others’ kindness in the past without being confronted or punished?

All the victim wanted was to get her possessions back.  No police.  No arrest.  Just right the wrong.  She offered mercy to those who had taken from her.  She chose forgiveness. She decided there was too much at risk to publicize the wrong that was done to her.  Going public with the offense would cause embarrassment to the guilty.  Perhaps.  Going public could break up the guilty family.  Perhaps.   Going public would end the friendship.  Perhaps.  But was it right to stay silent?  Is offering forgiveness and mercy enough?  Should all wrongdoings be punished?

I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.                Isaiah 43:25

The Bible tells us that everyone has sinned.  We were born sinners.  We need to right our wrongs.  We need to ask for forgiveness.  If not, we will be punished.  It’s an eternal punishment in the depths of hell.  Who wants that?

We have a forgiver.  One who offers forgiveness for all our sins.  No questions asked.  Mercy is offered for admitting guilt.  Sure.  There may be consequences because of our actions.  Wrongs will have consequences.  Some consequences and punishments are private.  Others public.  But forgiveness is always available.  Always within our reach.  All we have to do is ask.

His name is Jesus.  The forgiver of our sins.  He will wipe our sins off the map.  He will drop them into the depths of the ocean.  He will remove our sins as far as the east is from the west.  He will forget we ever sinned.  Once he has forgiven us.  We’re made new.  New creatures.  Go and sin no more.

Liar Liar

I know someone who lies.  It’s just what they do.  They tell small lies.  They tell big lies.  I’ve heard them tell whoppers.  More than once.  And they never bat an eye.  It’s as if they’re telling the truth.  In their mind, maybe they are.

Others have noticed.  When the storyteller isn’t around, someone will mention that story.  They knew it wasn’t true.  It was too obvious.  It was an almost unbelievable story.  I don’t know how she thought up such magnificent details on the spur of the moment like that.

If someone makes a point of lying just to look better than others or to get out of a tough spot, does it ever feel natural?  Does lying ever feel good?  Do habitual liars feel guilty?  Do the lies just taint any truth they may later tell?

I always assume that people are telling the truth.  I’ve made a habit of being truthful.  I don’t like lies.  Oh sure, it would be easy to lie.  In the moment, it would be easy.  But there are always consequences.  Consequences are never friendly.  They’re heavy, unnecessary lessons to be learned.

The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in those who tell the truth.           Proverbs 12:22

I sometimes think about it.  That lie I told.  That lie I never confessed.  To anyone. Ever.  I knew there would be trouble if I admitted it.  I wasn’t sure what the punishment would be.  So I didn’t tell.

I’ve thought about that lie over the years.  The first few years after the lie, I wondered if I should send a note and confess.  By then I lived in another state, and it no longer mattered.

I did something I shouldn’t have done and then I lied when asked about it.    I didn’t think about getting caught or being questioned about it when I did it. But people knew that someone had done something they shouldn’t have done.  And it was me.

When the group of us were sitting in the room being questioned, I assumed everyone suspected me.  I was the youngest.  The least experienced.  No one blamed me.  But I knew.  I knew they thought it was me.  I knew that I wasn’t going to confess to anything or to anyone.

The thing is.  I knew when I was doing it that it wasn’t right.  But someone before me had written wrong instructions.  I followed the instructions.  So was it really my fault?  Even though I knew better?

I knew their instructions were confusing. I could have corrected their mistake.  I had seen their mistake before and avoided it.  Maybe they didn’t see it as a mistake, but their intentions were misleading.  I knew better, though.  I just didn’t act on it.  I took the instructions literally.  Why didn’t I avoid it this time?  I always had before.

So I lied and said that I wasn’t the one who did that thing.  I felt bad about it.  I didn’t want to get in trouble.

Afterwards, no one ever spoke of it again.  Ever.  That was a huge relief.  I still felt it in my heart, though.  I knew I should confess.  I never did.  I. Never. Did.

I’ve learned from that lie.  I’ve learned that I don’t want to make lying a habit.  I don’t want to have to constantly remember the story I told and who I told it to.  I don’t want to have to be on my guard.  Always watching what I say and who I say it to.  Wondering if others can tell I’m untruthful.  I don’t want consequences.  It’s easier and safer to just tell the truth.  That way you don’t have to remember.  The story is always the same.