Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” – Luke 7:47-50 (NIV) This is our third part in the series Recovery and the Gospel. We’ve talked about the role of the gospel in our recovery and so far discussed redemption and power.

Today, we will discuss the way forgiveness changes us and others!

Jesus demonstrates the amazing power of forgiveness with a woman who humbly came to him in the midst of many self-righteous people. As always, Jesus compassionately connected with her in a way that radically changed her life and led to her recovery. She left in peace.

Forgiveness is central to many of Jesus’ healings. The gospel message is one of forgiveness and it is meant to change our lives for all eternity. We always have the opportunity to apply the lessons of the cross to the most intimate places of hurt, discouragement, sin, or challenge in our lives.

Forgiveness addresses the issue of our motivation to change–not out of fear but out of gratitude and reverence. Some thoughts on forgiveness and the heart of change:

1) Forgiveness illuminates the very heart of God. Nothing attracts us to God the way forgiveness does. Forgiveness softens our hearts and creates a connection to Jesus like nothing else does. Stop and consider the way God forgives you in the past, present, and future. Think through the multitude of sins He has forgiven and continues to do so.What thoughts come to mind? Gratitude? Excitement? Joy? Yes, and more. Having a clean slate brings God into focus and draws us closer to Him and motivates us to be like Jesus.

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.

He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;

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 . – Psalm 103:8-12

2) Forgiveness changes us and others: Our sin “wars against our soul” (I Peter 2:11) and drains the very life out of us. Often, our mental health challenges, sin, and character shortfalls can devastate our joy and ruin our hope for the future. But Jesus comes along and offers forgiveness and bring us back to life. We find freedom and a reason to keep pressing on. We find peace. It’s simply a gift given to us in love and it has the potential to radically change our lives. Check out this article.

3) Forgiveness motivates us to serve.

But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you . — Psalm 130:4

Seeing Jesus on the cross, looking down on us in love, motivates us to serve. Despite our problems, our histories, or our failures, we get motivated. Serving others, while we are hurting has a way of helping us. Jesus modeled this for us. In His weakest, most vulnerable time, He served. The power of forgiveness is the power of change. When He changes us, we get motivated to help others, and that in turn, changes us more. Read this article to be encouraged to serve.

I shared this last week but want to remind you of this truth:

Gaze at the cross. This has been the number one most helpful activity for me recently as I work on change. Look at the cross. Plain and simple. Ponder the cross. In the middle of a struggle, consider the cross.

When you hit a wall in recovery, take time to gaze at the beauty of the cross. What does the cross say about you and your recovery issue? What “statements” are made by Jesus and the gospel in your specific area of change? There is great power in looking, meditating, pondering, considering, and gazing at the cross. Plain and simple.

Don’t believe me? Try it this week. Whenever you find yourself stuck, confused, discouraged, or ready to give up your recovery journey, gaze at the cross. Just look and keep looking . You’ll find forgiveness! Setting Captives Free is a great place to see this concept at work.

The church setting is the the perfect place for recovery. Learn how to set up a Disciples In Motion weekend visit with Tim. It includes many different opportunities for mental health trainings in the church setting. Click here for more information.