Reproving and forgiving another who sins.
Matthew 18:15, 21-22
‘If another member of the church sins against you,
go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone.
If the member listens to you, you have regained that one.
Then Peter came and said to him,
‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me,
how often should I forgive?
As many as seven times?’
Jesus said to him,
‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.
Luke 17: 3-4
Be on your guard! If another disciple sins,
you must rebuke the offender,
and if there is repentance, you must forgive.
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.’
A well marked calendar.
In a deep valley among hills of southwestern Virginia a sheriff’s deputy was called to investigate a disturbing crime scene. A good-ole-boy known in the community as drinker and a hell-raiser was shot dead on the porch of his own rundown cabin. His wife, known to be a quiet and religious woman, was nowhere to be found. The deputy’s first thought was a care for her safety, but seeing that her closet and chest were cleared out he suspected she had shot him and run off. He looked for evidence and found it.
On the side table were three calendars, of the type funeral homes distribute at churches. Noticing large a “X” drawn on many of the calendar day boxes he asked local man assisting to count up the “X’s.” He was not surprised when the man announced
“490, I double tallied, and the last X was marked for the night before last.”
Shaking his head, the deputy murmured,
“So, she forgave him seventy times seven times. Think on that.”
Here the Q saying of Matthew and Luke suggest a hard saying to forgive. Seven carries the numerological meaning of eternal, ongoing or countless. So seventy times seven is to forgive without ceasing.
Yet this Jesus saying is conditional forgiveness.
“If the member listens to you, you have regained that one.”
“turns back to you seven times and says,
“I repent”, you must forgive”
This is because, for Jesus, forgiveness of a church member or another disciple was neither abstract nor mental. To forgive a debt meant it was written off… without an attitude. To forgive a sin meant the other person remained in community and remained in your care. Forgiveness was, at least for fellow followers of Jesus, about sustaining relationship. It is not just forgetting someone who harmed us and “writing them off.” Forgiveness is the means to persevere in relationship where harm is done.
Here Jesus was talking about our relationships with each other and so about our relationship with God. We ask God to forgive us as we forgive others. That is, we expect to be in relationship with God to the extent we remain in relationship with others.
I know this to be true; that forgiveness is the main tool I have to make peace in my world. Still, I have to remember
is not abstract,
not a mental exercise on my part and
provides an opportunity for the offending party to resume relationship with me through repentance or at least listening.
I think the saying is the most applicable of Jesus’ saying because of the opportunity we have to practice it. I’d love to hear your experiences with forgiveness.
Seeking Jesus’ Way
Q – 78
Even if your faith is no bigger than a mustard seed,
you can say to this mountain “Move!” and it will move.
Nothing will be impossible for you.
Borg-Powelson-Riegert Q Reconstruction (1996)