October 28, 2021

THE MEASURE OF FORGIVENESS (October 29, 2021)

The first time we forgive a galling wound, we seem all noble, elevated, full of moral worth. Given how superior we feel, forgiveness seems its own reward.
 
The second, third, and fourth occasions remind us that forgiveness doesn’t always change the one who angers or offends us. The callous and insensitive may continue just as they were.
 
About the seventh time, we feel like fools—like 12-year-olds who discover Santa Claus was never real. Why should we keep forgiving when wounding doesn’t stop? Isn’t there a cut-off point when injuries continue? “‘No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!’” (Matt 18:22).
 
Forgiveness isn’t asked of us so we may feel wise and worthy. Forgiveness is cross-bearing, following Jesus deep into the world’s pain because this is the way God loves, even for the stony and hard-hearted. How many of us would be in grace if Heaven had drawn the line at seven, and left us to our fate thereafter?
 
The apostle Paul, who was so much forgiven and thus called to forgive so much, once wrote: “Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” (Eph 4:32).
 
Keep praying for the grace to keep forgiving. And stay in it. -Bill Knott

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