Tuesday, March 10, 2015

As We Follow You Unreservedly

Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent

By Melanie Rigney 

(Azariah prayed:) “But with contrite heart and humble spirit let us be received; as though it were burnt offerings of rams and bullocks, or thousands of fat lambs, so let our sacrifice be in your presence today as we follow you unreservedly; for those who trust in you cannot be put to shame.” (Daniel 3:39-40) 

Good and upright is the Lord; thus he shows sinners the way. He guides the humble to justice, he teaches the humble his way. (Psalms 25:8-9)

Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.” (Matthew 18:21-22)

Lord, help me to follow You not only in theory, not only when it’s comfortable, but with every step I take. Help me to learn from, not criticize, those who find it easier to follow Your way than I do.

“Not seven times but seventy-seven times.”

In today’s world, we would call a person who showed that kind of forgiveness a doormat, a glutton for punishment, a masochist. “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me,” the saying goes.

And yet in a very few weeks, we’re going to see that Jesus isn’t just spouting pretty theoretical words here when he talks about forgiveness. In his final moments on earth, he’s going to forgive those who nailed him to that cross and mocked him. Upon his resurrection, he’s not going to launch a vendetta against Peter and the others who denied him or were nowhere to be found at the critical hour; he’s going to wish them peace and ask them to care for his people and, by inference, forgive them.

Heady stuff. And yet, for us, maybe it’s our heads that are the problem. We keep track of petty grievances and major wounds. We rub our own salt in them, keeping them fresh and raw and painful. May we learn from Jesus’s actions, not just his words, that forgiveness is the better course.

Forgive someone who has hurt you time and time again and from whom you expect no change in behavior. This doesn’t mean you have to put yourself in a dangerous situation, just that you forgive the person… and allow yourself to begin to heal.

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