Forgiveness, this is the centerpiece action of Biblical belief. We are told, and should believe, that we commit actions that offend God. God wants to forgive us. God has provided a way in Jesus his son for us to be forgiven.
We are also told we should forgive others. This is part of the Lord’s prayer. Our failure to forgive puts our security, our salvation, our beliefs into question. So we forgive, right?
But then those thoughts begin to rise. Thoughts of holding others accountable. Thoughts of what we might be able to do, say, or hope that might even the score just a little. Thoughts that have nothing to do with forgiveness and everything to do with what we think is just, or right, or ought to be. Thoughts that are hard to stop or eliminate.
If we have such thoughts, have we really forgiven? Have we followed the model of God by putting the wrong away as far as the east is from the west? Forgiveness is harder than it seems. In many ways, it is a process. Forgiveness requires the disciple of spiritual replacement. Thoughts about the perceived or actual wrong must be replaced with thoughts of love. This takes emotional and spiritual work. It requires reflection, recognition, repeat repentance and replacement.
This work is aided by our Lenten focus. When we remember what God has done for us, how God has forgiven us, we should be inspired to do the work of forgiveness in our own lives. I believe we will find it worth the effort, no matter how hard it may be.