Have you ever watched the Let’s Make A Deal television program? The hit game show—starting way back with Monte Hall in the 1960s and continuing today with host Wayne Brady–involves studio audience members being offered something of value and then given a choice to keep it or exchange it for a different, unseen item.
I used to think forgiveness was a bargaining game with God just like Let’s Make A Deal! A linear transaction when I needed to feel better about something I did or said or felt. Sounds crazy, right? It certainly does to me now, but back then I was a success-driven and achievement-mad CEO trying to “be a good Christian on the side.” No wonder I had it all wrong.
Thank God for his gift of real, genuine forgiveness…a kind of forgiveness that has nothing to do with bargaining or begging with God. He simply says to ask for his forgiveness, and then believe you have it. The process is much more than saying, “God, forgive me for everything.” That sort of prayer falls short of how God would have us view his magnificent gift. He wants us to confess our sins to him specifically! The power of God’s forgiveness increases exponentially when we expose every detail of our sin and give him the full story so he can take all of it away.
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:23-24
Failing to embrace the depth and completeness of God’s forgiveness is one of the biggest roadblocks keeping Christians from breaking free to travel his road of peace and joy. The power of guilt is so immense that few can fathom its release. We want to look back when God wants us to look ahead. We want to stir up guilt embers when God wants to extinguish the fire. We want to doubt when God wants us to believe.
Take a walk on the beach as the tide trundles in and then glance over your shoulder. You’ll see that the disturbance created by your path is immediately and completely washed away. Your tracks will give way to a smooth and unblemished layer of sand, and they will never return.
God wants us to think of our forgiveness just like those marks that are erased on the beach and gone forever. We do that by opening up completely and going beyond the superficial…beyond the general. A shiny car can look great on the outside because it has been cleaned and buffed, but underneath the chassis is a layer of dirt hidden from everyone’s sight.
God doesn’t want us to limit our repentance to the surface issues and mask the other areas of our lives that are holding us back. I’ve learned to be very specific in my prayers for God’s forgiveness so his response is specific.
No more bargaining for me. No more playing “Let’s Make A Deal.”