Grace to Forgive
“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 (NRSV)
I’ll admit that I have really struggled with Jesus on the issue of forgiveness. In the wake of conflict: he wants us to forgive. But you know what I wish he had done? I wish he would have told us what it means to forgive.
Here’s what my prayer life has taught me:
First of all: Forgiveness is transactional, and the math will never add up.
Second: Forgiveness does not mean forgetting the wrong. It is not giving up on justice. In fact, we can plan and pray for justice while forgiving someone else. But hear this: forgiveness does not require reconciling with perpetrator.
Instead, forgiveness is a movement towards a place in our memories where the wrong holds less intensity.
It is a breath of fresh air.
It is a cool drink of water in a parched space.
It is an act of mercy and grace that God grants us first.
Look to God. Look for that grace that will give you the chance to forgive.
God grant me the grace I haven’t seen just yet. Help me to forgive. Amen.
Kaji Douša is the Senior Pastor of The Park Avenue Christian Church, a congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, in New York City.