A socialist once came to see Andrew Carnegie and soon was railing against the injustice of Carnegie having so much money. In his view, wealth was meant to be divided equally. Carnegie asked his secretary for an assessment of everything he owned and at the same time to look up the figures on world population. He did a little arithmetic on a pad and then said to his secretary. “Give this gentleman l6 cents. That’s his share of my wealth.”
Sometimes we say, “All I want is my fair share” or “I just want what’s due to me”. Everybody wants to be treated fairly, isn’t that so? We all want the proper change back when we buy something. If we find we have been short-changed and didn’t get what was coming to us, we become angry. We vehemently demand our rights. These days there’s a lot of focus on one’s “human rights”; constitutions of countries are written with great emphasis on what’s right for the individual.
There is one area where I can be glad that I did not get my fair share though. It is an area where I will never demand my rights and insist on what’s coming to me. It is an area where I will forever remain silent and simply be thankful that I got short-changed. The area that I am talking about is my sin.
Psalm 103:10-13 says: “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.”
Let’s unpack these verses a bit. First, we see that God does not treat us as our sins required or as we deserved. Our sins were deserving of punishment. Instead, we received reward. We deserved death, but in its place we received life. Jesus, the one who deserved glory took our guilt and sin upon himself. 2 Corinthians 5:21 “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Next, we the reason why we don’t get what we deserve: God’s incredible love. The Psalmist says: “as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is God’s love for us.” This is love that cannot be measured; love that knows no limits was the reason. How far are the heavens above the earth? The heavens extend for untold millions of miles above the earth. If we can understand the limits of our universe, then we can understand God’s love for us. I cannot fully understand it, but I’m thankful for it.
Finally, the Psalmist says that “as far as the east is from the west, this is how far are sins are removed from us.” Those who have accepted Jesus as their Leader and Forgiver have had their sins removed from them by a compassionate Heavenly Father, never to be remembered again. When you travel toward the western horizon from the east, you never reach it. It simply stretches on before you.
Matthew, when he recorded the Lord’s Prayer said: “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” The word that he used ‘forgive’ means to “send away”. This is the same word used in Luke 4:39 when Jesus rebuked the fever in Peter’s mother-in-law. That is the kind of forgiveness Psalm 103:12 describes as God removing our transgressions “as far as the East is from the West.”
Honor the One who made it possible for us to get what we didn’t deserve!