By Robert Halsey Pine
“And if the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive.” (Luke 17:1-10 NRSV).
Jesus really wanted to make His point clear to the disciples in regard to forgiveness. What a challenge Jesus has thrown to us through them. Can you imagine forgiving someone seven times in one day? A year would be too often. Christ went to His death asking God to forgive those who had crucified Him. When you think that God allowed His only Son to be murdered while at the same time atoning for the sins of the world, it’s hard to imagine.
Make a list of all the issues that you can think of, from the personal to the global. After making your list go back and put a check by the issues that could have been or could be eliminated through forgiveness by all parties. I bet that a majority of the issues would have a check. If there is no forgiveness, there is no healing and no resolution. We are called by Christ to look after each other and to keep each other from stumbling. And, He says to beware if we are part of the cause for our brother’s stumble.
We need that faith that Christ talks about to the disciples. The faith that, if only the size of a mustard seed, could do great things. It is our lack of faith that keeps us from forgiving. We don’t trust God to help us through our faith. We think that surely, we will become vulnerable and be perceived as weak if we forgive. Our ego gets in the way and our arrogance stops us in our tracks. We must be humble.
Father God, I pray that forgiveness will find its way into more of our life situations. As I review my list of issues, Father, I find so many that could be avoided through forgiveness. From the small to the large, simple forgiveness would make so much difference. Help me, Father, to take the initiative in forgiveness and not wait on someone else. And I pray, Dear Lord, that You will inspire leaders and people around the world to forgive and put an end to all kinds of suffering that is caused by unforgiveness. In Christ’s name I pray, amen.
Robert Halsey Pine was born at Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extension: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.