Hymn #694 in Celebrating Grace Hymnal — “Forgive Our Sins as We Forgive”
[pullquote_center width=”90%”]“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?[/pullquote_center]
There is a line in this contemporary text that pierced me to the heart when I read it… twenty or thirty times (never assume you’ve gotten the meaning from any hymn or poem on one reading). It is ‘how can Your pardon reach and bless the unforgiving heart’. Unforgiving heart. Wait a minute. Shouldn’t we be concerned about God’s pardon reaching the unforgiven heart?
Nope, apparently not. According to this hymnist, the heart held hostage by old slights and bitterness is the heart that needs God’s forgiveness. An unforgiving heart is stuck — stuck in grief, stuck in the past, stuck in an endlessly replaying loop of wrong and outrage.
God, give us the courage, with Your help, to free ourselves from the iron grip of unforgiving. We acknowledge that holding on to unforgiveness can destroy us. We acknowledge Your forgiveness, and accept Your help to forgive the wrongs visited upon us.