September 11th, each year is a difficult time. Although I personally did not have someone die during these events, I like so many others, was affected deeply, and still am. I can tell you my exact location and my exact response initially upon hearing the devastating news. The people that were killed that day and the ones that died as a result, changed the way of life here in America, and even around the world. As time went on, we also realized that not only was the way of American life attacked, but it was an attack on Christianity here and abroad. It continues today and we must not forget happened that day. Lest we forget, lest we let our guard down, lest we allow ourselves to be doormats, it will happen again.
That being said, as a Christian, we are also called to forgive.
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. l
The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Mt 18:21–22.
Our brothers and sisters are not always blood related. They are worldwide. They are the children of God. Some may argue that the brothers and sisters do not include non-Christians. I believe the reality is, it is all of God’s children, not some but all.
Jesus’ words are wise for us. Forgiveness ultimately is for the one doing the forgiving. It does not mean that the one being forgiven may not benefit, but the change in us, as we forgive, can be dramatic. When Jesus tells Peter seventy-seven times, it tells us to look to forgive. Jesus did not say forget. For God, can choose to forget but humans, I believe it is impossible to intentionally forget. God designed us this way. For God makes no mistakes and how we were made is how God made us. In not forgetting, we can still forgive but by not forgetting, we can help ourselves from being taken advantage of. Forgetting and allowing the same to happen to you over and over, expecting a different result, can lead to being a doormat, to being abused.
It is a fine line we walk as we follow Jesus, in forgiving seventy-seven times (or translated seventy times seven). Forgiving and forgetting gets messy. Living in the Spirit, with our brothers and sisters, can be messy.
15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ d 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Mt 18:15–17.
Yet, we are also called to forgive seventy-seven times (or translated seventy times seven).
Come Lord Jesus. We ask that you continue to send the Holy Spirit to be in the world to lead us in our decisions. Help us to do your will. Help us not to be deceived by the evil one. Guide us through the times of trouble…
A psalm of David.
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley, a
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Ps 23.