Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;
my eye is wasted from grief;
my soul and my body also.
For my life is spent with sorrow,
and my years with sighing;
my strength fails because of my iniquity,
and my bones waste away.
Because of all my adversaries I have become a reproach,
especially to my neighbors,
and an object of dread to my acquaintances;
those who see me in the street flee from me.
I have been forgotten like one who is dead;
I have become like a broken vessel.
For I hear the whispering of many—
terror on every side!—
as they scheme together against me,
as they plot to take my life.
But I trust in you, O Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hand;
rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!
Make your face shine on your servant;
save me in your steadfast love!
O Lord, let me not be put to shame,
for I call upon you;
let the wicked be put to shame;
let them go silently to Sheol.
Let the lying lips be mute,
which speak insolently against the righteous
in pride and contempt. Psalm 31:9-18 ESV
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Colossians 3:12-15 ESV
Have you ever flown on an airplane? There’s one thing that almost never happens on an airplane, but it’s there in case it’s necessary. When planes fly high in the atmosphere, there isn’t enough oxygen to breathe in the surrounding sky, but the cabin of the plane is sealed and filled with enough air pressure and oxygen for everyone to be able to breathe normally. This is why planes are able to fly so high and carry passengers. Very occasionally, something might go wrong, and when that happens oxygen masks will pop down in front of all the passengers. You can put on an oxygen mask and keep on breathing normally. If you watch the video before the plane takes off, it will tell you that you should always put on your own oxygen mask first. Then you’ll be able to help someone else–a little child or someone who is scared or confused and isn’t able to put the mask on without some help.
God’s forgiveness is like that. When we carry the weight of our own sin and guilt and shame, it’s very hard to forgive someone else. People who don’t know God’s love and forgiveness can often be very hard on others who have done something wrong. They are afraid to forgive, because forgiveness is a burden, and if they are already carrying the burden of their own sins–trying to excuse them or make up for them–forgiving another person’s sins is more than they can handle. In Psalm 31 it says that the psalmist is weighed down with sorrow and trouble, and that people are running away from him and becoming his enemies. He understands why this is happening: “Because of my iniquity.”
There’s hope if you are carrying the burden of sin and guilt and no one seems willing to forgive you. The psalmist says, “I trust in you, O Lord.” Even if the whole world turns against us, God never will. God is always willing to forgive sins because of what Jesus did on the cross. Jesus died to pay the penalty for all the sins of the world. Because of that, God forgives us our sins and gives us his love and help so that we can forgive other people’s sins and live in love. We are righteous before God because of Jesus, and we don’t have to worry when people who don’t know God’s love and forgiveness speak and act against us. They can’t change what God in Jesus says is true, that we are completely forgiven forever.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for forgiving all our sins for Jesus’ sake. Help us to live in love and to forgive others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.