The list of people President Trump has pardoned in the last couple of weeks has been featured prominently in the news. Some were wrongfully-accused and imprisoned. Now they are free to resume their lives. Others were guilty but found favor with the President and allowed to go free. Both the innocent and the guilty must feel extremely grateful, and hopefully, they are determined to correct their mistakes and "do better" in the future.
The U.S. Constitution, Article 2, grants this power to our President, and it is truly a stunning power. The power covers federal crimes only, not state ones, and can include full pardons, reductions of prison terms/fines, or a broad range of clemency provisions. Former President Barack Obama issued pardons, commutations, reprieves, "remission of fines or restitution" to 1,927 individuals, 504 of which were serving life sentences. That was more than the 13 Presidents before him combined!! And even that large number represented only 5% of those who had requested pardons.
Even though a President's power is impressive and far-reaching, it pales in comparison to God's power to forgive. There is no chain of command or a multitude of staff members that we have to break through in order to get God's attention. We don't carefully draft a petition and then fervently hope our request is granted. Because His only begotten Son paid the restitution for the sins of all mankind when He, who was sinless, died on the cross, we all have access to forgiveness when we truly repent of our sins and ASK God to make us clean. We approach God directly, with nothing standing between us. One hundred percent of those who repent and ask for a pardon from God receive it, and His pardons are complete. He doesn't reduce our fines or shorten our prison terms. Our crime is wiped completely away.
1 John 1:9 -- "If we confess our sins, He (God) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
On this first day of 2021, I believe the best way to start is with a completely clean slate. First we need a fresh cleansing of our own hearts made possible by God.
Next, I think it would help all of us (I'm preaching to myself here) to forgive others -- even those who don't realize they have wronged us.
Matthew 6:14-15 -- "For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
Matthew 18:21-22 -- "Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven."
After we are right with God and with others, it will truly free us up to embrace the new year if we also forgive ourselves.
Romans 8:1 -- "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."
Romans 5:1 -- "Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Psalm 103:12 -- "As far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us."
2 Corinthians 5:17 -- "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."
I've been thinking about what I want to be my word for 2021, and "reset" keeps coming to my mind. The definition I found describes it as: "to set, adjust, or fix in a new or different way." I feel the need to reset some of my priorities, reset my relationships, reset my commitments, and I believe God will reveal how I should do that if I ask Him and listen for Him to answer.
Have you chosen a word for this year?
Even more, have you asked God to forgive you? Have you forgiven others and yourself? I encourage you to do the things that will help you begin 2021 in the healthiest ways possible-- spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!