June 2, Sunday

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Forgiveness”

Exodus 32:21-24

And Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you that you have brought such a great sin upon them?” 22 And Aaron said, “Let not the anger of my lord burn hot. You know the people, that they are set on evil. 23 For they said to me, ‘Make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ 24 So I said to them, ‘Let any who have gold take it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.”

When ministering to people, I am often reminded of two things: how easily we can hurt others and the importance of forgiveness. As I often counsel people through their past hurts or frustrations, I am reminded of how I am dealing with my own issues—whether it be asking for forgiveness or forgiving others. This causes me to make sure that I am first heeding the wisdom of God as I am helping others. It’s often said in our church that there’s nothing that will hinder our relationship with God like unforgiveness.

In today’s passage, we see Moses confronting Aaron regarding the golden calf and the role he played in it. Aaron’s response in v. 24 is quite dissatisfactory: “So I said to them, ‘Let any who have gold take it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.”

What we actually read in the account is quite different. Aaron (or perhaps someone under Aaron’s direction) fashioned with a graving tool the golden calf (32:4). This is very different from what Aaron tells Moses—that in went the gold and out came the calf. It’s unsatisfactory because it doesn’t seem like Aaron is owning up to his mistakes; there is a passivity to Aaron’s response.

And the narrative just carries on. We see Moses purifying Israel as those who rebelled are put to death, but we know Aaron is spared. The priestly garments are made according to God’s instructions and given to Aaron and his sons to serve as priests. There is no account of resolution or even full acceptance by Aaron. Despite his disobedience, God showed mercy on Aaron and continued to use him.

For Moses, I imagine he had to deal with this. He had to continue to serve beside someone who betrayed his trust. And this greatly challenges me when I consider those that I struggle with or people who have wronged me in the past. We are called to forgive, just as God has forgiven them and has forgiven us.

Brothers and sisters, the truth is that if we do not forgive those whom God has forgiven, it is no longer their wrongdoing, but it is our sin before God.

It’s not easy. Often, we commit in our heads but have to keep fighting for our hearts to catch up. Forgiving others is impossible without the Holy Spirit. Therefore, our first step must be to pray. Pray for ourselves. Pray for the other person. Deuteronomy 9:20 shows us that even Moses prayed for Aaron: “And the Lord was so angry with Aaron that he was ready to destroy him. And I prayed for Aaron also at the same time.”

Only when we invite the Holy Spirit to fight on our behalf so that we can forgive, can we experience breakthrough. On this day, as you go to worship (or perhaps you’ve already returned from worship), may our unwillingness to forgive never hinder us from offering acceptable worship before God. It is the touch of God that we need more than anything that empowers us to forgive.

Brothers and sisters, let us forgive one another as we have been forgiven.

Prayer: Father, we thank You for the incredible weapon, which is forgiveness; this powerful weapon that can cut the ties of the enemy and bring about healing to our relationships. But You know the weakness of our flesh, that we cannot do it without You. So we ask for the Holy Spirit to come and change our hearts. In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1Samuel 24

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