Forgive seventy times seven times! Are you serious?

Bitter truth time, fellow Christians. Let’s face it; God’s most difficult rule is “Love one another.” Oh, sure, most of us can love our mom, our cute little granddaughters, our spouses for the most part, and even our own children (except when they feed their crayons to Mr. Hungry Clothes Dryer). But nearly everyone else gets put in the “usually” column.

We all know that’s not what He wants. Jesus has made it very clear that we need to forgive “not seven times, but seventy times seven.” (And in case you think the limit is 490, keep in mind that Jesus said that to St. Peter, who was probably as good at math as he was at walking on the water. Seventy-times-seven is Jesus’ way of saying, “Just keep forgiving, Peter, I’ll tell you when you can stop.”) And then there’s that little bit of fine print that says, “Forgive us our trespasses, AS WE FORGIVE THOSE who trespass against us.” If we don’t forgive, He don’t forgive. God doesn’t give us much wiggle room on this rule.

So, then why is it so doggone difficult??!! Shouldn’t the most important principle in the universe be just a little less challenging to comply with? Shouldn’t guardian angels hover quietly over the express checkout to swat me when I’m about to make a snippy comment at the lady who dared to sneak 12 items through? C’mon, Heaven, can we get just a little help here?

Maybe we can. Maybe we should use the Christian All Purpose Power Tool: prayer. Last Saturday, someone sent me one of those snotty “It’s-Friday-afternoon-and-I-have-to-deal-with-this-so-you’re-going-to-feel-my-pain” emails. It made my blood boil, but for some reason, I didn’t hit the “I’ll-reply-and-you-are-gonna-pay-for-it,” button. I let it sit. It bugged me all day. At bedtime, I asked God to grant me the grace to deal with it. And then I feel asleep. In the morning, I woke up and quietly said a prayer for the person whose frustration had slopped over into my bucket. After church, I politely replied to her request, ignoring the emotion. No belligerence. No hidden sarcasm. Just a simple reply from one human to another.

Maybe you wouldn’t call that a victory. Maybe you wouldn’t call that an answer to a prayer. Maybe the person on the other end of the line is just as annoyed with me as she was on Saturday. Maybe you’re right. On the other hand, today, two people could have been stewing over an insult that may or may not have been intended. Instead, one (me) isn’t and the other has a chance to get over it, instead of debating whether to reply to another angry email. I think that’s as much as I can do, and I think I’ve done my duty for today.

Give it a try. One down, 469 to go.

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2 thoughts on “Forgive seventy times seven times! Are you serious?

    • Thank you, Jim. It’s just too bad that we have to learn this lesson the hard way, over and over and over…

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