On some bright Tuesday when we’re feeling poised, benevolent and calm, we set our minds to finally forgive the one whose wrong we can’t forget. “It’s all an act of will,” we say—and so we try to unremember their insulting words; the money borrowed that never was returned; the way they turned their backs to be with finer friends.
And like all good intentions, it lasts an hour or two or even ten—until the insult twists again, or we are snubbed, or mocked, or cleaning up for them. Our righteous anger burns like bile, for now we have fresh evidence of malice.
The wellspring of forgiveness is the heart from which it starts. “Forgive one another, just as God forgave you because of what Christ has done” (Eph 4:32), the Scripture urges. We can’t forgive until we know—again—how much the Father has forgiven us—for all the insults to His grace; for how we misused gifts He gave; for when we turned our backs on Christ.
Only forgiven folk forgive. The grace we give is grace we have received: we make none by ourselves. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God” (Eph 2:8).