Mud Covers a Multitude of Sins

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We knew when we started this home renovation that one of the biggest tasks would be the ceilings. Before we got our new metal roof a few years back, we had an old, leaky roof that caused water damage to the ceilings throughout the house. The leaks were now gone, but the evidence of their previous presence remained.  

Additionally, our ceilings were done in a pattern. Think popcorn ceiling with more pizazz. The problem is this type of decor is seriously outdated. Buyers now want beautiful, smooth ceilings, which is why Jason has been slaving for several days to fill, sand, and paint the ceilings. They’re looking great, but it has taken a lot of work, especially in the water-damaged areas.  

Yes, these spots took some extra mud (which is like putty yet somehow different) and a lot of extra time and patience. Fortunately, my husband’s efforts have paid off, and onlookers can no longer tell that the ceilings were once damaged by water. They look like new. As Jason and I surveyed his latest work, he cleverly commented, “Yes, mud covers a multitude of sins.” Witty, isn’t he? His statement got me thinking, and my mind wandered to the source of his comment.

And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.
— I Peter 4:8
Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.
— Proverbs 10:12

In the Hebrew language, the word “cover” carries with it the meaning of forgiveness. Just as the mud covered the faults and stains on the ceiling, so does our love cover the injustices or offenses done to us. We choose to let them be hidden. It doesn’t mean the deeds or words were right or that they didn’t hurt us, but instead of allowing ourselves to get angry or bitter, we choose instead to forgive. We place a covering over it and hide it. From ourselves. From the offender. And from any other onlookers. That’s just what love does.

I’ll admit, I struggle with this. When someone does me wrong, my natural tendency is not to cover it up but rather to blow it out of proportion. I make a big deal out of it and make sure others know how I’ve been hurt or offended. Sadly, forgiveness rarely enters the scene until the Lord has thoroughly convicted me about my poor reactions and prompted me to make things right. In the meantime, I’ve made a mess of things, and sometimes the mess cannot be cleaned up.

How much better off would it have been for me to forgive? By failing to do so, I only proved how incomplete my love truly is. And you do the same when you fail to allow love to cover up the faults of others. We’re not talking about a license to sin or to mistreat others. Let’s face it, we’re all human; therefore, we all make mistakes. Let’s recognize that the next time a fellow human messes up and give him or her the benefit of the doubt. In other words, let’s not sweat the small stuff. Instead, let’s cover it up and hide it away, never to be seen again. It’s better that way. . . just like our ceilings.

Embracing the Past

One of my favorite songs of all times is God’s Been Good, but there’s one phrase in the chorus that always gives me pause. The line goes, “Though I’ve had my share of hard times, I wouldn’t change them if I could.” That’s quite a bold statement and one I’m not sure I’m able to declare honestly. When I think back on my past mistakes, I long to go back and set things right, to erase the hurt caused by those mistakes. 

I’m reminded of The Flash, a show I’m watching on Netflix. Normally, I’m not much of a comic book or superhero fan, but something about this show intrigues me. Without giving too much of the plot away, I will provide you with an overview. Barry Allen is a young man who has experienced much heartache in his life and now has the opportunity to show the world he has not let his past define him or make him into something evil. Instead, he spends his days fighting crime and helping others who feel lost and alone.

One day, however, after facing another tragic loss, Barry decides he’s tired of being the victim and takes matters into his own hands by going back in time and preventing some of his life’s greatest heartaches. For a while, Barry is happy with the changes in the new timeline he has created, but soon he realizes those changes came at a high cost. He thought that undoing the wrongs that had been done to him would fix his life, but he never imagined what he would lose in the process. After trying to repair the timeline, a wise mentor reminds Barry they aren't God and teaches him that every decision and every change becomes a part of a new world, and things can never be the same.

I get where Barry was coming from. Sometimes, I think of how awesome it would be to go back in time and erase my past mistakes and the heartaches I’ve experienced. But if I did that, things would never be the same. I wouldn’t be me. While some things may be better, others could be worse. There’s no telling what would be affected by righting my wrongs or undoing past hardships. And honestly, I’m not willing to risk it, even if it were possible. I’d hate to wake up in a life where I had my health but not my husband or where I was a famous, best-selling author but had rejected Christ. 

The fact is, this life is mine—both the good and the bad. And instead of trying to erase my past, I need to embrace it because it has molded me into who I am today—a person with a sincere desire to serve God and to trust Him for my every need. I wouldn’t be who I am today had it not been for the things of my past. Yes, some events were painful, but, as the song says, “Through it all, God’s been good.”

Today, perhaps you are plagued by the sins of your past or burdened by tragedies faced in your earlier life. No matter how horrible those things were, please don’t try to erase them. Embrace them instead. Notice I said embrace them not dwell on them.  There is a difference. Dwelling on them leads to self-pity and discouragement whereas embracing them leads to growth and acceptance of who you are and how you arrived at your current state.  

So embrace those past experiences. Count them as lessons learned and steppingstones to get you to where you are today. As a former pastor once said, “God can take a crooked stick and draw a straight line.” Likewise, God can take a painful and shameful past and use it to shape you into something beautiful. Won’t you allow him to show you how?

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
— Jeremiah 29:11

Who Do You Think I Am? - The God Who Forgives

Thou answeredst them, O Lord our God: thou wast a God that forgavest them, though thou tookest vengeance of their inventions. - Psalm 99:8 

The Hebrew phrase used in Psalm 99:8 is El Nasa, and the very basis of our salvation hangs in the balance of this sweet name which, in its most basic definition, is interpreted "God who forgives" or "forgiving God." Interestingly enough, there are different forms of the word "nasa," each carrying with it its own meaning. Some of the most common interpretations of the word are to lift up, to carry, to bear, to forgive, honored, and traveled. I don't know about you, but I can see where each of those definitions fits into the theme of forgiveness.

The Bible tells us that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. We are all guilty of sin. We are sinners by nature and sinners by choice. Because of that sin, we are not fit for Heaven, a place of perfection and complete holiness. But God didn't want us to miss out on the joys of Heaven, so He made a way for us to be cleansed of our sins and made righteous in His sight. He sent His only begotten Son to be born, to live a sinless life and then to die in our stead. On that dreadful day of crucifixion, Jesus lifted up and carried, not only the weight of the cross, but also the weight of our sins as He traveled up the hill to Calvary. He bore our sin and our shame. He pleaded with the Father to forgive the very ones who were persecuting Him, and that includes us, for it was our sin that put Him on the cross. With the cry of "It is finished," He honored us with a gift that no one else could ever offer: everlasting life.

Because of that great sacrifice, Christ now acts as a mediator between us and God the Father. When Satan stands before the throne and accuses us of sins (of which we are guilty), Christ reminds the Father that our sins have been covered and paid for. On our end, to maintain sweet fellowship with the Lord, we need to ask forgiveness for the wrongs we've done. First John 1:9 tells us,

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Other passages in the Bible comfort us with the knowledge that, not only does God forgive our sins, but He also forgets them. He casts them into the sea of forgetfulness, never to be brought up again.

No matter what we've done or how bad we've been, God is a God who forgives. He loves us and wants us to be right with Him. He welcomes us to His throne and listens with a loving heart as we pour out our faults before Him. As soon as they're confessed, He tosses them away and welcomes us back into loving fellowship with Him, just as if we had never sinned. He doesn't love us any less or treat us any differently. It's truly as if we never messed up to begin with. No guilt trips. No grudges. Just open, loving, genuine forgiveness.

I have heard with my own ears someone say, "Well, God can forgive a lot, but He can't forgive this." Yes, He can. No sin is too great (except the rejection of Christ's gift of salvation). He is a big God, an awesome God and a forgiving God. If we'll do our part (confess the sin), He will do His part (forgive). That's just the way He is. He's the God who forgives.