When our hearts are full of warmth and we feel in control, it’s easy to be gracious to the ones who give offense. “Forget about it,” we advise them. “It’s no big thing. No worries!“ Forgiveness seems within our reach. We give our grudges to the wind. But when we’re powerless and cold; when we’ve been wounded by deep malice or contempt, we cling to the only weapons we have left—our anger and our memory. We have no grace for villains or the haughty. We pray they get what they deserve. And then we hear again the strange new urgings of the gospel: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt 5:44). Against our narrative of righteous indignation, grace tells us stories that seem impossible. The Lord who urged us to forgive forgives the sins we love to hate—adultery, betrayal, cruel violence, and greed. There’s no rousing of our will that can teach us to forgive like this. Grace is the gift of Christ—from Him to us; from us to them; from them to others still unloved and unforgiven. The sequence is repeatable. When we’re forgiven, we learn grace. We’ll never lack for opportunities to practice what we’ve learned. Remember now how much you’re loved. And stay in grace. -Bill Knott
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