Willingness, The Process of Forgiveness
We are willing to be forgiven but resistant to be restored.
Resistance is not the recipe for restored joy. Notice in Psalm 51 that David is not only asking for forgiveness but willingness. "Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit."
If we ask for forgiveness, we should also ask for willingness. Why?
Forgiveness is forward-facing.
Notice how David looks forward to as the outcomes of his forgiveness and restoration:
- v. 13 - Then I will teach transgressors your ways.
- v. 15 - My mouth will declare your praise.
- vv. 16-19 - He will offer right sacrifices.
Forgiveness takes time. It is not just about getting rid of your past but embracing a future. Getting over your past is one thing; getting on with your future is another. David isn't just trying to gain forgiveness. He is forging a future.
But how do we keep these hopeful outcomes from becoming "bad deals" we make with God? "God I'll do X if you will . . ." or "I'll never Y again, if . . ." We've all made these bad deals. How do we avoid them? This brings us to the second reason we need willingness with forgiveness.
Forgiveness is a pronouncement and a process.
In Christ, we are justified, but then comes the process of sanctification. We learn to live what the Lord has declared of us. So in forgiveness, we have something to look forward to, but something we also need to go through.
What is it that will bring David to " teach transgressors your ways (13a)?" It is the process of learning how God deals with David's sin that will make him an effective minister to others seeking forgiveness for their sin. David can be confident of what God does and be of help to others because he has experienced it himself.
One of the reasons things don't change when we ask for forgiveness is because we want a pronouncement, but we are not willing to submit to the process.
The process isn't easy.
We need willingness because the process isn't easy, enjoyable, or natural. Because of our resistance, it will require the work of God in us to make us willing. If we utter the words of repentance, "Forgive me." but we are resistant to the process, is it truly repentance?
If we sound sincere, but we are not submissive, is it truly repentance? No. It is religious, but it is not repentant.
David looked forward to God's forgiveness, but he was also concerned about his willingness. He looked forward to having a compelling testimony and to a return to sacrificial worship. But he wasn't asking God to give him a degree; he was asking God to take him to class.
Willing to Work on Our Why
Ultimately we need willingness with our forgiveness because of our willingness to sin. Our willingness opens us up to God's work on our WHY. David asked for a willing spirit because he realizes that he is in recovery from being a man who was willing to commit adultery, deceit, and murder. Forgiveness is not just letting go, but moving forward. We need forgiveness, but also willingness.
Read Psalm 51:13-19
- Make a list of the commands to be obeyed.
- Create a list of the promises to be believed.
- Write out the principles of the passage and how they can be applied.
Asking for forgiveness is easy. Submitting to the process is hard. Begin to pray about your willingness. Ask God to help you not to be aggravated by consequences, but to make you a faithful workman in them. Also, ask God to help you find someone in your life who will be a great teacher/coach/mentor to you that will help you unlearn and relearn. As you pray, write down the names of people who come to mind.