And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. (Matthew 6:12 NRSV)

One of the important ways we receive God's grace is through forgiveness. The Bible tells us story after story of how God forgives and brings people back into a covenant relationship. Throughout Jesus' ministry he brought reconciliation through forgiveness. In John chapter 8, we read about a woman caught in adultery. According to the custom at the time, she was to be stoned to death. Jesus said, "Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." All the accusers left. Jesus said, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" "Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again."

Jesus also gives us the authority to forgive. In John 20:23, Jesus gave the disciples the authority to forgive when he said, "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them." In Luke 6:37, Jesus said, "Forgive, and you will be forgiven."

One of my favorite stories is about two little boys who were fighting. One of them yelled at the other, "I'll never speak to you again." They went to their respective houses, but the next day they were back out playing as if nothing had happened the day before. One of the little boys' mother asked him why they were speaking to each other now. He responded, "Me and Johnny are good forgetters."

That is the kind of God we have--a good forgetter and a good forgiver. Forgiveness is an important means of receiving God's grace.

God of peace, forgive me, as I freely forgive those who have wronged me. In Jesus name, Amen.

Ron Newhouse

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