“Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord; Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you. I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.” – Psalms 130:1-8

“Keep short accounts…”

It’s likely that most anyone who’s been a follower of Christ for any length of time has heard this phrase at least once along the way. But what does it mean? And what is the application for my life.

In general, it means that when we sin, we should quickly make every effort to get alone with God, ask His forgiveness. The same applies to relationships. We should work to make things right as quickly as possible with any other person that we have wronged. And then relegate it to the back of our memory banks. Living daily with a clean conscience is far better for the Christian than living with bitterness and anger hanging over our heads, regardless of the relationships we are in.

Say you are an accountant and your job is maintaining the books for your company. If you spend a little time each week working on reconciling the books, it’s a straightforward, simple task. However if you wait two months to do so, it becomes a monumental task of trying to figure out what to post to where. It’s the same in relationships. Not letting problems pile up makes it easier to balance our relational accounts.

Relationships don’t work very well when we have a sink full of dirty dishes or resentment that has been building over the years. However, if there is one dish in the sink, it is easier to deal with. If we keep letting the dishes pile up, we will assume the problem has become too big to solve. Bitterness and resentment make for dirty dishes while forgiveness reduces the number of dirty dishes.

There are people who believe they have been wronged to the point that forgetting and forgiving is out of the question. That looking past what has happened is too much to ask. Yes, forgiveness can seem costly. But, I would reply that not forgiving costs much more. I would ask you to make forgiveness a habit. Don’t make forgiveness an option or a policy that applies just to people you love. Make it a part of who you are even with people who are difficult to forgive. And forgive even when they’re not looking for it. Keep short accounts.

Remember that when we forgive those who have sinned against us we are only doing what Christ did when he forgave us first.“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” – Matthew 6:14-15.

Discussion Question:

  1. How do you keep short accounts? Why is it hard to forgive?
  2. Why do you think people are content to be angry or bitter when the release of forgiveness is available?
  3. What characteristics in your life might indicate that you haven’t fully forgiven past hurts, even if you know in your head what you need to do?
  4. How should a Christian deal with recurring offenses, especially those that open up old wounds?
  5. Is there a broken or strained relationship in your life that you could or should rectify? What can you do to start the process this week?