I found it very disturbing and upsetting to witness the abusive reaction of some to the missed penalties at the Euro 2020 Final. I’m sure you found them distressing too! I felt for the players, especially as the cameras showed how they themselves face the goal. The goal seemed rather small and the goalkeepers rather large. I would have found it difficult to score even if the circumstances were not what they were.

But it is not just with penalty shootout that we tend to miss the target. We regularly miss the target in every area of life, and all of us do so. There are no exceptions! Not one!

The New Testament frequently uses the word hamartia for ‘sin’. Its literal meaning is ‘missing the mark’, as an archer would miss the target. It delivers the sense that we get it wrong, miss God’s standard (not just missing the bull’s eye, but missing the target on the whole), we are not even close. It doesn’t matter how much one tries, perfects their skills, practices, we miss the mark God set for us because of our sinful state. The Apostle Paul put it this way in: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were professional religious people, to use a sports analogy. They committed themselves to know the law, to master it, to fulfil it to its minute details. They wanted to get it right. They still failed.

There is only one resolve for all of us, professionals or amateurs: God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Jesus was the only one who was able to get the target, and to get it perfectly. He was obedient to God and fulfilled the law completely. When he died on the cross he died for our sins, for all of our misses, and paid the penalty fully for them. He fulfilled the law (got the target) on our behalf, for us and instead of us, and paid the penalty for our misses. Because of this God forgives everyone who trusts in him.

Jesus showed us how to deal with ‘missing the mark’, whether it us who miss it or someone else. His response was forgiveness, and we should forgive one another also. 

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32) 

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13)

[from GV]

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