I’m convinced that the most powerful tool in the universe is the humble eraser. Many tools can be used to create something, other tools are designed to destroy, cut, tear, and plow. But the eraser is the only tool that can “un” something. Words cannot be unspoken, bells cannot be unrung, actions cannot be undone, texts, letters, and emails cannot be unsent but the eraser can unwrite. Sure, hammers can pull nails, in a sense unnailing something, but a scar is left behind. Paint and White Out may give the appearance of “un” but they only cover over, they do not restore to a previous condition like an eraser. There is only one other thing that rivals the eraser’s power to restore – forgiveness.
Only forgiveness can “un” bitterness, anger, guilt, distrust, and heartache. Forgiveness can erase the effects of the past allowing for a clean slate and a fresh start. Whenever there is offense, no matter how small or how grievous, there is a choice to be made. We can either chisel it into our hearts, forever remembering and nurturing the offense, or we can erase it through forgiveness.
Forgiveness begins with God. His word promises “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18, NASB95) Our sins are perfectly erased through the blood of Jesus. When we come to God in prayer He doesn’t pull our file and review all of the wrong in our lives that has been washed away. Neither is His response limited or determined by our past. Our sins, as far as God is concerned, have been fully and completely erased. God’s forgiveness is free but it does come with an expectation.
Once we have received God’s forgiveness we are expected to forgive others the same way that we have been forgiven. Jesus underlined that expectation several times. Matthew 18 records the Parable of the Unmerciful servant. And, the Lord’s prayer contains the line “forgive us our debts (trespasses, offenses, and sins), as we also have forgiven our debts (trespasses, offenses, and sins). (Matthew 6:12) This is the only line in the prayer that Jesus goes on to explain, “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” (Matthew 6:14–15, NASB95) Why would Jesus make forgiveness of others so important? Wouldn’t it matter more that our sins are forgiven in heaven?
God’s expectation is that we would erase the sins and offenses of others as completely as our sins have been erased by Christ. Forgiveness creates a clean slate and a fresh start like an eraser unwritting words on a page. Bitterness, anger, distrust, and heartache are all wiped away by forgiveness. Relationships are renewed; friendships restored; love, joy, and peace nourished; all because of forgiveness. Perhaps I was wrong, the eraser is not the most powerful tool in the universe, forgiveness is.