“If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?”  Psalm 130:3 

“In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.”  2 Corinthians 5:19  

I recently read a story in the newspaper about a county sheriff who stressed education for his inmates.  High school dropouts could complete a GED, and other classes were available as resources allowed.  But this is prison … punishment … justice served.  The sheriff said he believes everyone deserves a second chance. 

We routinely ask God to forgive us “as we forgive those who sin against us”.  That’s a scary thought.  We harbor fear and grudges.  We have no patience for repeat offenders, the “big sins” that land you in prison.  An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life.  We turn our eyes away from our own repeat offenses – unkindness and lack of compassion, selfishness and materialism, envy and resentment, anger and bitterness.  Such “little sins” as these will not be tried.  Or will they?  We have been commanded by God, through Jesus, to “love one another” (John 13:34) and “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.”  (Matthew 7:12)  We are to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit those who are sick or in prison.

A second chance, as in two, wouldn’t get us very far.  Neither would seven chances as Peter suggested.  490 chances as Jesus countered wouldn’t earn us even another month.  We need mercy.  We need a Savior.  Through this same Jesus Christ God is passing on to us the daunting the responsibility of reconciliation – the message of mercy and grace.   

Prayer: “'Forgive our sins as we forgive,'” you taught us, Lord, to pray, but you alone can grant us grace to live the words we say.

“How can your pardon reach and bless the unforgiving heart, that broods on wrongs and will not let old bitterness depart?

“In blazing light your cross reveals the truth we dimly knew:  what trivial debts are owed to us, how great our debt to you!

“Lord, cleanse the depths within our souls, and bid resentment cease; then, bound to all in bonds of love, our lives will spread your peace.”  Amen (Rosamond Herklots)  

Verla Olson