A Humble Heart and Willing Spirit
Today’s Reading: Ezra 1-2; John 19:23-42
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Matthew 18:21-22
So many factors are involved in someone sinning against another. Many times, the thoughts and motives of the one who sinned are not as clear as the reaction of the person who was sinned against. Conflict is hard. Conflict takes a toll on both parties. Defensiveness goes up and trust goes down. Both parties though, the one who needs to forgive and the person who needs to ask for forgiveness, have their share of difficulties. The one who would forgive, deals with skepticism. They hope for real change this time, and deal with thoughts such as, "I hope this is the last time you need to ask forgiveness. I hope this time it works for good.
By choosing to forgive you, I may just get hurt again." But the person who continually asks for forgiveness is also in a difficult situation. When we sincerely confess our sin to another, we have to admit to ourselves that we have hurt someone else as a result of our behavior or words. To ask forgiveness repeatedly is to admit that we do not have the ability or power to change that trait in us. So to ask sincerely means that we need to keep seeking ways to change. After a while, it is natural in the flesh to justify and rationalize the sinful behavior instead of continually trying to change. That is why Jesus takes both sides. If someone is repeatedly willing to ask forgiveness, sincerely looking for help, then we need to be willing repeatedly to restore that person back.
I am thankful for Jesus' teaching because I know that He lives by His own teaching. We sin against Him more than anyone else. If we are repentant, He is willing to forgive us - over and over and over again. We have to pray that our hearts remain soft enough to keep asking for forgiveness. His mercies are new every morning, probably because we use up all His mercy the day before.
If you need to ask forgiveness from someone, ask the Lord to give you a humble heart and a spirit willing to change. If you are being asked to forgive, ask the Lord to help you look to Him to help restore the person back in your heart without bitterness. The Lord will help you. He is on both sides. Let us pray that we keep His focus and His heart during the conflicts, and not our own.