Daily Word of Grace # 254 (June 2, 2021)

In his 1949 book The Weight of Glory C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) insightfully and unsettlingly observes a very important distinction when it comes to God’s forgiveness: “I find that when I think I am asking God to forgive me I am often in reality (unless I watch myself very carefully) asking Him to do something quite different.  I am asking Him not to forgive me but to excuse me.  But there is all the difference in the world between forgiving and excusing.  Forgiveness says ‘Yes, you have done this thing, but I accept  your apology; I will never hold it against you and everything between us two will be exactly as it was before.’  But excusing says ‘I see that you couldn’t help it or didn’t mean it; you weren’t really to blame.’  If one was not really to blame then there is nothing to forgive.  In that sense forgiveness and excusing are almost opposites…the trouble is that what we call ‘asking God’s forgiveness’ very often really consists in asking God to accept our excuses” (133).  Yikes!  I wish this were not the case but as usual, C. S. Lewis is right, and cuts right to the quick.  Receiving God’s forgiveness involves genuine repentance and moving forward in a new direction.  This is reflected beautifully in the confession of sin from The Holy Eucharist: Rite I in which we pray, “for thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, forgive us all that is past; and grant that we may ever hereafter serve and please thee in newness of life” (The Book of Common Prayer 331).

Love and Prayers,