I have a child who frequently feels guilty about their sin after they have committed it and is very good about asking for forgiveness, but so quickly does the same kind of sin again and again and again and so comes to say they are sorry again and again and again. Sometimes by the end of the day I blurt out, “I forgive you but it sure would be great if you could be sorry about your sin before you do it and just obey!” It is a valid point, I think. I don’t want this child to think they can do whatever they want, knowing they can apologize later. On the other hand, I am called to forgive, over and over and over again.
Today we were reading in Luke 17:1-10. Verses 3-5 say, “Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.” And the apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith.'” They thought seven times was hard! They must have been shocked when he told them to forgive 70 times 7 (Matthew 18:21-35). ‘Increase our faith!”
As we read on my heart took in the meaning of the passage and I started praising the Lord. Verse 6 says, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. Mulberry trees grow rapidly and can reach 70-80 feet tall. Their root systems spread out very far and can be invasive. They produce a very messy fruit (although they do taste quite good). This is what bitterness and unforgiveness are like in my heart. But Jesus says if I only have the faith of a tiny mustard seed I can send that bitterness into the sea. I thought of the verses that say love covers a multitude of sins. With faith, I can command bitterness to be planted in a sea of love and that huge tree will be covered over.
Jesus goes on to tell a story, ” And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’? But will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do'” Luke 17:7-10. Clearly, if we refuse to forgive we are considering ourselves to be better than our master, our Lord Jesus Christ who died for us, and chooses to forgive our sins. And we are also viewing the other person as being a worse sinner than we are even though the opposite is true–we ought to be the worst sinner we know, in our own eyes. See also Matthew 18:21-35.
Dear Child of mine–I will forgive you over and over and over again. . .will you forgive me over and over and over again? And Father, thank you for your unending mercy and your love which covers the multitude of my sins–through the blood of your Son, Jesus Christ.
“Pursue peace with all men, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking diligently lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this may become defiled” Hebrews 12:14-15.