• The traditional means of grace are Word, Sacrament, and Prayer. Some add fellowship, also based on Acts 2:42. I’ve always believed we need to do much more with prayer. Most church prayer meetings are small, and so with ours (with thanks, nevertheless, for Ross’s most recent attempt to revive that work through Selah). Until we find that silver bullet, please consider joining us tonight for Selah Prayer at 7:00p. I’m also asking the elders to help me give thought to this crucial means of grace. Your thoughts are welcome as well.

• You may have noticed on Christian websites someone trying to answer the question, “should I forgive a person who hasn’t asked for forgiveness?” or “how can I forgive a person who doesn’t apologize?” The insinuation is there’s a necessary reckoning with the actual offense, a need for some clear application of justice. This is how we see ourselves when we are offended, as the guardians of justice. Millions of marriages are crippled by this simple assumption of how justice must work. Of course, God alone is the guardian of justice (Rom 12:19), but we’ll come back to that.

• When it comes to offenses between people, Paul said simply: “Love keeps no record of wrong” (1 Cor 13:5). In a book that teaches relentlessly “let all that you do be done in love,” the rule of love is there’s no backlog. Love forgives. But how is this fair?

• Jesus taught, “if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Mt 6:15). Interestingly this is the one idea pulled out of the Lord’s Prayer and reiterated. In the prayer it’s a given: “forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.” But Jesus knows it’s not that easy, so when the prayer is finished he comes back to it: “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

• Now we’re getting to what Jesus considers the real problem: as sinners we are continually jeopardizing our place in the Kingdom by imagining we have the moral superiority to pass judgment on others. The idea is not exactly laughable to Jesus — he takes it too seriously for that — but it’s not hard to imagine him saying something like “this must be some kind of joke.”

• In Romans 3 Paul frames the reality of our character: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away… Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness” (Rom 3:10-13).  This is why James says, “there is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:12).

• When we entrust all the injustices of our lives to God, we put them in the hands of the only One who sees clearly. So Peter said of Jesus, “when he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Pet 2:23). This is so important. The outcome of trusting the One who judges justly was life and salvation and hope. Our own judgement leads to confused condemnation. God’s justice accomplishes all that is necessary. God’s justice restores. God’s justice heals and binds up. God’s justice leads to a sentence of life, not death.

• I’ve used this little saying a lot but it’s been very helpful for me: Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die. Forgiveness is trusting God and waiting for him to bring them, and you, to life.