Advent Day 21: Forgiveness

Advent Day 21

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.  (Matthew 18:21-22)

Today, work on forgiving someone.  If you are new at this, start small.  Begin with something that has had a very minor impact on you, not a major wound that has changed the direction of your life.

Here’s an example.  My office is off-campus, so at least once a week I go on campus to spend time with students.  Often I’ll see undergraduates handing out flyers or advertisements as I go to the lunch spot.  One day a student was handing out flyers for a religious event sponsored by another campus ministry.  I read the flyer and thought, “Arrgh!  Why didn’t I think of this?  This sounds great!”  For a moment, I was jealous and angry that someone else had this good idea first.

Well, I thought about it, considered some ways I could improve on the idea if our group ever did it, and let it go.  Now, what happened here wasn’t much of a sin, if at all.  No one set out to hurt me on purpose.  I chose to be jealous.  Still, I felt a need to forgive myself, and to “forgive” the other person for being so smart.

The questions I asked myself that day can be used for many of the “small” sins and hurts that we inflict on one another.  Give these questions some thought.  (Again, if you have a huge wound in your life, you may want to take a different direction; get some help from a trusted wise person if you want to begin the process of forgiving someone who severely wounded you.)

  • Who hurt me?  Was it really intentional?
  • Have I really been insulted or disgraced, or is my feeling of hurt something more like jealousy?  It could be a combination:  for example, feeling insulted when a respected professor doesn’t like your idea, and being jealous of that professor’s power.
  • Does it do me any good to hold on to the hurt feelings?
  • Next time a similar situation happens, could I choose to react differently?  (In the case of the professor, I could choose to bolster my next idea with more references.)

I think all these questions can go “up the ladder” to more difficult situations as well, but again, I recommend starting small.  Most of us have a tough time forgiving others, which is why Jesus preached about it so much!

Today’s daily Scripture reading from the PC(USA):  http://gamc.pcusa.org/devotion/daily/2010/12/18/

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