“He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.”
The portion of the Psalter appointed for today’s Eucharist is Psalm 103:1-4, 8-13. And, although it might be about 5 days too early to think squarely about our sins and iniquities here we have this marvelous verse from the psalms.
My immediate response to this verse is: “Thank God for that!” But if we all took a minute and thought about those times in our immediate past when we’ve been sinful, or when we have been, “immoral or grossly unfair,” as the dictionary defines the word, “iniquity,” I believe we wouldn’t have to think too long or hard before we’d come up with a healthy list.
Thinking about those sins, immoral, or grossly unfair acts is not a bad exercise….some good can come from identifying the places where we separate ourselves from the unending love of God. Performing analysis where we, as the particularly penitent confession in the Rite 1 service says, “bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, which we from time to time have grievously committed, by thought, word, and deed…” (BCP p. 331) is healthy. Looking for the nature and places from which our sins emerge helps us to understand ourselves more deeply, more fully. Dwelling on those times and places in our lives where we sin or where we have been immoral or grossly unfair is not helpful. Focusing so intensely on our faults and sins so much so that we are burdened to the point of feeling that we are so unlovable, even by God, is not the right way forward.
Acknowledge, yes; admit, yes; look for ways to amend our lives so that we no longer think, say, or do those sinful behaviors, yes; seek God’s forgiveness and forgiveness from those we have hurt, yes. Beat ourselves up again and again so that we feel as if we have no worth, no.
The good news here is that by God’s grace and mercy God does NOT deal with us as we deserve. Why? Because God loves us; because God is merciful and wants us to be better than we are, growing in love, closer to God. The good news is that God does not repay to us the wrongs we have done. Why? Because God does not want us to be beaten down subjects but instead wants us to live our lives as if we truly believed that we are God’s beloved children. And guess what? We ARE.