“Then Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times. “
– Matthew 18:21-22
Forgiveness seems like it should be something easily given, yet it can be one of the most challenging things to give. How often do the wounds we’ve suffered influence the ability to forgive the one who wounded us? Resentment and grudges creep in and prevent us from offering the grace we all seek when we’ve done wrong.
This struggle isn’t anything new; it’s been going on since the world began. Peter struggled with it and even sought out counsel from the divine asking Jesus how many times he should forgive. He throws out a number which might have seemed extreme at the time (and maybe still does) – seven times. Then Jesus shocks him, and us, and goes far beyond saying seventy-seven (or in some translations 70x7 (490)). The point Jesus is making is that we are called to forgive – always.
How do we do this in our lives, in community, in our congregation? This is our congregational watchword for the year. It is to help guide us in our ministry and work together. We as a family of faith will have our tensions, our arguments, our hurt feelings and those may lead to resentment and grudges. Yet, as the body of Christ, we are commissioned to seek to live out the commandment to love one another and a part of that love means forgiveness, even when it’s hard.
The act of forgiving won’t necessarily take away the pain of action. It won’t magically change the way we view the others involved, but it will help us to stay in a right relationship with the one who forgives us ALWAYS, even when we don’t deserve it.
Each week we pray, “…forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…” If God were to do this, how often would we be forgiven? Let’s spend the year seeking to grow in our forgiveness, sharing the grace we’ve been given by God with those around us.
In Christ’s service,