What does it mean to be forgiven, to receive forgiveness? Is forgiveness about us or about God? Do you find it easy to ask for forgiveness? The problem with asking for forgiveness is that in doing so you admit that you have done something wrong. I don’t know about you, but I find it very hard to admit when I have made a mistake, hurt someone or let someone down. Sometimes it is easier to live with the shame, anger and guilt than to admit our mistakes. The problem is that by living like that we put ourselves under the control of our shame, anger and guilt, and some people live under this control for years.
Most of us are familiar with the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-31. To me the big turning point in this parable comes in verse 17 ‘When he came to his senses’. This young man had taken his inheritance and wasted it all in wild living, now while he was sitting among the pigs, not having anything to eat, he realized that he could go back home, where even as a slave he would be better off. Even now his actions were self-centered and selfish. He didn’t want to go back home because he was worried about his father, or he missed his family. He was going back home because he was in trouble and needed help.
In a way, asking God for forgiveness is a selfish act. We do it to get ourselves out of trouble, but in in doing so we get so much more. When the young man returned home he received much more than he expected, much more than he deserved. In the same way, by coming to our senses, repenting and confessing our sins before God, we receive so much more than we could ever expect.