"I am the vine; you are the branches." — John 15:5

“Seeds of Grace” Do the Math

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Much is made of the Canadian propensity to say ‘sorry’.  I am referring not so much to the sensitive political issues presently in the news but rather that ‘oh, sorry’ that slips out automatically if we bump into someone, or even if they bump into us!   It is possible to catch ourselves saying it if we step on the cat’s tail, reach around someone to get something off the grocery shelf or brush against the coffee table.  We understand that this diminutive apology is more about being polite than it is asking for forgiveness, a much more complicated emotional scenario. And it has two main parts, doesn’t it? The act of asking for forgiveness and the act of forgiving.

Asking for forgiveness from someone we have wronged involves those spiritual acts which have been the theme of “Seeds of Grace” this week: contrition, repentance, confession and, ultimately, the aim to rebuild relationships, if at all possible.  Sadly, but honestly, sometimes reconciliation does not take place on this side of heaven.

You may find that giving forgiveness is even more challenging, with a multitude of reasons for that reality. “Then Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, 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

When Jesus said these words to Peter he was not making a joke nor was he saying that there was a magic number after which we could give up. Some translations of these verses say ‘seventy times seven’, which would be 490 times!   It’s not about how often.  It’s about always.  And that is difficult for us to take to heart. In the new life in Christ forgiveness is not achieved by our own effort or will, or even desire, alone but in partnership with God’s grace.  And no one, not even Jesus, ever said it was easy.

Questions:
Do you find it difficult to forgive? Who? Why?
Do you find it difficult to accept forgiveness from those you have hurt or wronged?
What are you going to do about it?

For Further Reflection: Colossians 3:12-17  “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved…forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive…And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him”