Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Thought

“Peter came to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?  Up to seven times?’  Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times but up to seventy times seven.’”  Matthew 18:21-22

Can we forgive someone who never seeks forgiveness?  Peter’s question to Jesus does not seem to indicate that his theoretical “brother” ever asks to be forgiven, so the question becomes more about our place in this dynamic and how forgiveness plays a role in our own faith.  When we are wronged, we expect – or demand – that the wrong be made right.  It’s what we would do … right?  Or is it what we might be willing to say only if we are called on our “sin” against someone else?  And when we do apologize and ask to be forgiven, are we really trying to make things right – OR – are we just trying to settle things down?

There is a big difference between apologizing and earnestly seeking forgiveness.  When John the Baptist is confronted by the Pharisees, he says one must “bear fruit worthy of repentance”.  This means our actions of sorrow in knowing we have wronged someone must necessarily move toward not only correcting the error but showing in a tangible way our genuine repentance for the wrongful or hurtful act.  Otherwise we toss out a few cheap words that are ultimately meaningless because we will do nothing more than to say whatever we must say just to get the other person off our backs!  Then the act is only about “us”; not the one who has been harmed.

The same must be said of our acts of repentance when we know we have sinned against our Lord or when we profess faith in the Lord.  As is so often said, “talk is cheap”.  True righteousness is not defined by what we say; it is proved and attested to by what we do not only in making something right but also in the wrong we do.  This is what people know about us, and this is what people come to know about our Lord; for if “you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:15).


No comments: