Good Friday morning ...
New Years Day.
A lot of us would like to call it Good Riddance Day because of what we all went through in 2020. Good riddance to 2020!!!
Actually, at the end of 2009 New York City promoted a Good Riddance Day in Times Square. Organizers encouraged people to write their grievances down and then throw the lists into shredders symbolizing the act of letting go of painful memories, bad experiences, foolish mistakes, bad relationships, dumb choices, and long-held grudges that had been gunking up their insides. Participants could use a sledgehammer in case the shredder didn't provide enough emotional release. I understand the same thing is taking place this year as well.
There is something almost irresistible about the idea of "out with the old, in with the new." Sometimes we need to say "good riddance" to the pain and hurt of the past. To do that we are going to have to find the courage to let go of our anger, say farewell to our bitterness, and cast off our malice toward those who have hurt us deeply.
To put it bluntly ... we must learn to forgive. Until we do that we can never go forward. As long as we live in the past, we will be chained to the past, and the people who have hurt us deeply will win a double victory ... once when they hurt us the first time and twice when we refuse to let it go and move on.
We all struggle with broken relationships, people who hurt us, painful words, deceitful actions, friends who turn against us, and unkind words said about us or our loved ones.
What I see to be true about the human condition is this: We always need forgiveness and we always have someone we need to forgive.
Oh, that we might become great forgivers. Oh, that we might become quick forgivers. Oh, that the love of Christ might fill our hearts so that, as we have been forgiven, we might freely forgive those who sin against us.
But you say, "I can't do that. You don't know what they did to me." What if God treated you as you treat others? You'd be in hell already.
What if God were as unkind as you are? What if He kept a record of your sins? You'd never get within a million miles of heaven.
"I'm going to trash him like he trashed me!" What if God said that about you?
"I don't know how much of this I can take!" What if God treated you like that?
The folks in New York City meant well in 2009 with their Good Riddance Day. But the best they could offer was self-improvement by shredding grievances. Christianity goes much further and much deeper because it bases everything on what Christ has done for us. Having been forgiven so much, at so great a cost, can we not forgive those who have disappointed us? Whatever forgiveness costs (and sometimes it costs us a great deal), it can never cost us what it cost Jesus when he hung on the cross, the Son of God dying for the sins of a rebel race, crying out, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do" [Luke 23:34]
How about we make 2021 a Year of Good Riddance in which we say farewell to anger, bitterness, blaming, finger pointing, self-justification, and critical spirits ... and ask God to grant a fresh infusion of His grace in all of our relationships.
So, may we be like Jesus in the coming year, full of grace and truth, abounding in mercy and quick to forgive. Set us free, Lord Jesus, from corrosive anger, that Your love might flow from us into a hurting world. Teach us to forgive as we have been forgiven. Amen.