Robert's Ruminations

The thoughts of Revd. Robert, Minister for Emmanuel, Ilfracombe

Overlooking Sin

We all have our own images of God. Sometimes people imagine God as the great accountant who keeps exact records of everyone of our wrongdoings. This God preserves the details of our failings on computer – nothing escapes his attention, nothing is overlooked. Given what he sees, he regards the handiwork of his creation with some disapproval. He waits until the last day when he can confront us with the punishing record of our sin.

But this depiction of God is a world away from the image given in the book of Wisdom:

“You are merciful to all, because you can do all things and overlook men’s sins so that they can repent.
You love all that exists ... You spare all things
because all things are yours, Lord, lover of life”


In this radical understanding, God is celebrated as the great lover of life. He doesn’t condemn that which he has created. God shows his mercy “overlooking men’s sins so that they can repent”. This sequence is important – first God overlooks sin, and then he expects repentance. This is so often very different to the way in which we forgive. We expect people to say sorry and then we may be willing to overlook the wrong that has been done to us. God is a professional artist at forgiving. He knows that we are all sinful but he is not transfixed by our human wrongdoing – he overlooks it, hoping that this generosity of spirit will lead sinners to repentance.


Jesus once met a sinner – a little man named Zacchaeus – sitting up in a tree. Jesus calls him by name and tells him that he is going to his house to share a meal together. Zacchaeus was a tax-collector, probably one of the most reviled professions of the day as they were Jews collecting Roman taxes from their fellow Jews. The crowd were understandably enraged that here was Jesus being more interested in an outcast of society than in them. The crowd is transfixed by the sins this man committed, so much so that they couldn’t see what this man could become. Jesus’ generous attitude to the tax-collector has good results – Zacchaeus makes public amends for his wrongdoing.

Zacchaeus was able to come down from his perch in the tree and share a meal with Jesus knowing that his sins were overlooked, and in repentance his life was changed.

We too can come down from our lonely perches to face the one who loves us and wants us to show repentance. We too can have our sins overlooked and say ‘sorry’ for the things that we have done of which we are ashamed. In doing this our lives can indeed be changed for the future, because with God everything is possible!!

Rev. Robert.

Emmanuel Church 2016 Concert Programme
Measuring up!


No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Already Registered? Login Here
Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Captcha Image