God Moves Us Forward through Forgiveness (Matt 18; Psalm 103)

Forgiveness rescues people from the curse of being tethered to the past. That truth is at the very core of life in Christ…and appears to be a hot topic in today’s popular culture, as well. One of my favorite lines, often attributed to folks like Lily Tomlin and Oprah (but originating well before either of them), is this: “Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past.” There is wisdom there. It’s a sentiment championed by popular song artists like Beyoncé and featured in PBS specials on mental health. Forgiveness IS good for both the forgiver and the forgiven. We shouldn’t be surprised that the topic is a part of our contemporary conversation. Today, though, we give thanks that the healing power of forgiveness, forgiveness that we are often reluctant to grant...forgiveness we dole out in piecemeal fashion, has been lavished upon us by our Creator and Redeemer.  It came deeply embedded from the beginning in the heart of the God of Holy Scripture and is at the heart of God’s signature act of mercy in giving God's Son for the life of the world (John 3:16). No wonder then, that forgiving others is more than a popular self-help means to an end. The people of God are called to forgive one another, because they have received such abundant mercy themselves. God has removed our sins from us "as far as the East is from the West" (Psalm 103:12). God has already moved us all forward, through the free gift of His unmerited forgiveness. But mercy received can't help but translate into mercy given. That’s the point of Jesus’ parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Matt 18:23–35). The most important fellow disciple is the one who has sinned and who needs forgiveness to release him from the penalty he deserves to pay. It may be that we will need to say (or hear) words of forgiveness more than once. Forgiving others may entail words spoken over pain we continue to feel...over scars that never go away. And forgiving is a separate matter entirely from restoring trust in a relationship. But God has moved us all forward, through the free remission of our sins. Who will God enable you to point forward, through forgiveness, this week?