“Preachers need to preach a lot more on forgiveness,” said my friend, George Dawson, as he reflected on his life-long work as a family physician and a hospice director. He has noticed how long-held grievances, destructive words and deeds, and unresolved guilt, especially in those final days before death, take their toll on the life that remains. As he spends time listening to personal stories and unfinished business, he has discovered the remarkable power of forgiveness. He finds fulfilment and joy in helping people experience it and reconcile.
Today we begin a week on forgiveness. As you read these Scriptures, seek their truth for your own experiences. Do the ancient words bring to mind the face of someone from whom you’re estranged due to harsh words or actions? Do the verses make you painfully aware that you’ve resisted taking the first step to repair the breach? Does a sense of guilt still stick to your soul the way silt remains after a storm passes and floodwaters drain?
Where will you find yourself in Matthew’s story? Are you like Peter, who seems to be a reluctant forgiver? How do you respond to being forgiven? Are you motivated to forgive someone else? Do you withhold from another the gift you have received—and if so, why? Does the story help you appreciate God’s mending mercy more deeply?
When I know I have wronged someone, or feel wronged by another, I find it difficult to be in that person’s presence. Too often I avoid the painful process of making things right. Too often I’m reluctant to take the first step in restoring grace. Perhaps this week will provide the holy nudge I need.
Whom do I need to reach out to today with a word of apology, an assurance of forgiveness, and an affirmation of friendship?
“Forgive us for the ways we have wronged you, just as we also forgive those who have wronged us.” (Matt 6:12, CEB)