Thursday, July 15, 2010

How Many Times?

"Then Peter came up and said to him, 'Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?' Jesus said to him, 'I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.'" (Matthew 18:21-22)

I am so grateful for this passage and the work of the Holy Spirit to bring it to my mind in a real life situation of my lack of forgiveness. I hope this story from my life will encourage you to hide God's word in your heart and delight in his law. This is a brief story of God's kindness to convict me of sin and my self-righteousness. Sunday mornings' are never the easiest time at the house because it is the only morning Heather, Emma and I all get up early to prepare for the day. Sunday is an early morning in which we are excited to go fellowship with our local body of believers at the Bible Church. Every Saturday evening as we put Emma to bed we pray for grace and kindness toward one another in the morning.

Why?

Well I'm not a fan of being late anywhere we go but I especially am not a fan of being late for church. I love being with other brothers and sisters in Christ and having that fellowship with them so I am eager to get to church. I don't think that is a bad thing until it comes above serving my family. I love Heather and Emma more than I love the people at church but sinfully I want to be to church on time. Heather also loves being at church but she also loves her sleep. Sleep is not a bad thing as my eagerness to be to church on time is not a bad thing until...let me illustrate.

About two weeks ago we had an instance when Heather slept through her alarm. Needless to say we were running a few minutes late that morning. Things were a tad rushed but we did make it out the door in pretty good timing. Running late has happened in the past with us so as we left I reminded myself of grace. My goal was not to play the silent game with Heather. When I'm upset, frustrated or angry I get quiet which is also a horrible trait on my part. As we drove to church Heather looked over at me asking, "Will you forgive me for making us late."

What to do?

Immediately I said she was forgiven but proceeded to make a comment about her sleeping in. That my friends is not forgiveness. That attitude and comment stemmed from a lack of forgiveness in the past. When this has occurred in the past my reaction has been less than graceful but I have told Heather she is forgiven but in my heart I was keeping a record of wrongs. Suddenly I had put limits on how many times I would forgive her. As we kept driving the Holy Spirit graciously reminded me of the text above. I was thinking in terms of number of times forgiven with my wife instead of being obedient to what Christ has commanded. His words are not for us to keep track of how many times we forgive but rather when asked for forgiveness we grant it. Remember we are to forgive as we have been forgiven. Forgiveness is about understanding the gospel not keeping records of right and wrong.

Needless to say I was convicted and asked for Heather's forgiveness for my sinfully selfish attitude, comment and heart. As I said I am so grateful for the work of the Spirit in my life. As a sinner forgiven by an infinitely holy and perfect God, through the finished work of his Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross; forgiveness should flow from this truth. May we, as Christian, be men and women who love to forgive with grateful hearts saturated in the truth of the gospel.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

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