It’s a law of nature. Our human nature is so pleased with something like a clean slate, and yet, there is an almost irresistible urge to write on it. Just look at what happens to big open walls or clean railroad cars. Even though the drawing that is done isn’t always the most neat and most beautiful thing, there is a gift and a unique sense of art about it. As as perfectionist, when I see a clean slate or an blank sheet of paper, I really want to fill it with something neat or beautiful. I am not an artist of any sort so this usually doesn’t work for me.

However, there is a really important slate that I work on every single day. Each morning, God gives it to me, clean and ready for use. It is totally up to me, how I choose to fill it. As a child, my parents impressed on me the importance of filling this slate well. Yes, we have the blood of Jesus that can clean our slate at any time during the day, but the day is so much better when we do our best to fill our slate well.

This concept is one that I rarely think about in detail, but it has become one of those principles by which I live my life. A while ago, however, it became more meaningful to me. As I mentioned before, I am a perfectionist. So when I mess up, I desperately want to start over. I don’t know how to work with a mess. When my daily slate gets dirty because of a decision I made, I really want it to be clean again so I can start over.

Here, I have a problem. It has caused me a lot of unnecessary heaviness and hardship. I realize, as Oswald Chambers says,

Beware of the pleasant view of the Fatherhood of God – God is so kind and loving that of course He will forgive us. That sentiment has no place whatever in the New Testament. The only ground on which God can forgive us is the tremendous tragedy of the Cross of Christ; to put forgiveness on any other ground is unconscious blasphemy. The only ground on which God can forgive sin and reinstate us in His favour is through the Cross of Christ, and in no other way. Forgiveness, which is so easy for us to accept, cost the agony of Calvary. It is possible to take the forgiveness of sin, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and our sanctification with the simplicity of faith, and to forget at what enormous cost to God it was all made ours.

Forgiveness is the divine miracle of grace; it cost God the Cross of Jesus Christ before He could forgive sin and remain a holy God. Never accept a view of the Fatherhood of God if it blots out the Atonement. The revelation of God is that He cannot forgive; He would contradict His nature if He did. The only way we can be forgiven is by being brought back to God by the Atonement. God’s forgiveness is only natural in the super-natural domain.

  In an effort to understand this, and make it real in my life, I made a mistake. Instead of accepting my clean slate (even though it cost so much to cleanse it), I would reject it. I would tell God, by my actions, that, “God, this cost You too much. I can’t accept it. Because it is worth so much, I’ll just let you keep it because I feel too bad to accept this gift from You.” So I lived my day with a dirty slate. All of my failures from yesterday staring me in the face, causing me frequently to repeat them. My problems just got bigger and bigger and I spiralled deeper and deeper into depression. God was offering me forgiveness, but I was too proud. I rejected the clean slate that He offered again and again, choosing to live in my own misery.

Finally I realized a great truth. That clean slate would be there for me, whether I accepted it or not. If I didn’t use it, nobody else would. God had it there, just for me and my rejecting it was not holiness or righteousness, it was pride and even blasphemy! So I humbled myself and accepted that slate. The least I can do, but all that God wants of me, is to accept it with gratitude and fill it with one good thing at a time.

Compared with the miracle of the forgiveness of sin, the experience of sanctification is slight. Sanctification is simply the marvellous expression of the forgiveness of sins in a human life, but the thing that awakens the deepest well of gratitude in a human being is that God has forgiven sin. Paul never got away from this. When once you realise all that it cost God to forgive you, you will be held as in a vice, constrained by the love of God.

  The next thing I realized, in thinking about a clean slate, is that God isn’t the only one who gives clean slates. I do too. Every time I forgive someone completely, I hand them a clean slate (in that area).
  This became very real to me in marriage. When Jon fails and asks my forgiveness, how am I forgiving him?  Do I say, “I forgive you” but if he fails again in that area, do I bring out the old slate that has all his past failures on it? Do I add up his transgressions? Or do I completely wash his slate so that, next time he asks my forgiveness, I only have one thing on there to clear away? This is how God treats me, should I not pass this on?
   This doesn’t just apply to Jon. How about my brothers and sisters in Christ? Do I forgive them completely or do I let the slate get dirty and dirtier? When Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother, Jesus answered in a way that didn’t give Peter any right to hold back forgiveness, complete forgiveness. The same applies to me.
  So let’s accept the forgiveness of God with grateful hearts, never forgetting how much it cost, and pass that forgiveness on to those around us.
P.S. I realize that forgiveness and reconciliation are very closely related. I did not touch on reconciliation here but that plays a big role on this topic. For a beautiful representation of “A Realistic Reconciliation”, follow this link. John D. Martin does a wonderful job of explaining it.

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