Writing about forgiveness can prove to be a hazardous exercise. It quickly becomes an archaeological venture into the depths of our own heart and history. Seeking to pen helpful words for others evokes an honest look at ourselves. The process unearths painful reminders of harsh words spoken in haste and anger. It exposes long-held grievances we have been unwilling to release. It reveals those healing words of grace we could have spoken but never uttered at all. While it may bring to mind warm and joyful memories of reconciliation and renewal, it also prompts us to ask forgiveness for continued brokenness, resentments still unresolved, and missed opportunities for reconciliation.
The theme of Jesus’ story about the ungrateful servant is hard to miss. God extends forgiveness to us in measures far beyond anything we deserve or could expect. This enduring characteristic of God finds expression throughout the Scriptures. The psalms affirm that God’s “mercy endures forever” (Ps 136); God’s “goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” (23:6). In Jesus’ words and deeds of forgiving love, we discover this great reality about God. Receiving that grace compels us to become gracious. We cannot pay it back, but we can pass it on. In our experience of being forgiven, we must learn how to forgive. In gratitude, we become bearers of grace to others.
Regrettably, we too often prefer to be consumers rather than conveyors of God’s grace. Like the ungrateful servant, what we have been forgiven far exceeds what we’ve been asked to forgive. We continue to be works in progress who imperfectly reflect toward others the abundant grace we have received.
Think of someone you need to forgive or to ask forgiveness from. What would the first step toward reconciliation look like? Could you take that step today?
God of enduring grace, grant that others may see evidence of your forgiving love in my personal relationships. Amen.