Good morning! How are you today? It's a beautiful day beginning out here. My husband has made it safely home after working a double shift and being up nearly 24 hours straight.
I began reading chapter seventeen, and then did a little bit of research on one thing, so we're going to focus on verses 1 through 6 today. Jesus started out speaking of offenses, and how they are going to happen from time to time. It's all but impossible to go through life and not be offended sometimes. But listen to verse three:
3.Take heed to yourselves; If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.
And verse 4 continues:
4. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.
Now. Jesus has said when someone does something against us we are supposed to tell that person. If he or she repents, we are supposed to forgive them. Sometimes that's hard enough for our stubborn little selves. Let's take husbands, for example. In stereotypical fashion, especially according to jokes and tv, hubby does something to hurt wife's feelings or make her mad. Doe she tell him? No. She folds her arms and pouts. She'll tell anyone and everyone his offense but she wont tell him. When he asks 'what did I do?' the retort is a snippy 'Well if you don't know I'm certainly not going to tell you! You know what you did!' I will admit here and now, I've had that attitude once or twice. Trust me. It doesn't get you anywhere. It's like spinning your wheels when you're stuck in the mud. It gives the appearance of working to get out of the mess but its not going to get you anywhere. Sitting there nursing that grudge is only going to make you madder, and the person who "did you wrong" may not even have a clue what they did. Speak up. Not in a hateful manner, but just simply say, 'You know, that remark hurt my feelings.'
Then Jesus really lets us know how we are supposed to be. He said if someone offends us seven times in a day, and they repent seven times, we are to forgive them seven times. What's the first human reaction? Nah uh. One or two times I might forgive, but after that, they ain't sorry. Read verse 4 again. Did Jesus give us permission to decide if the person was truly sorry or not? No. He said if they repent, we are to forgive them.
It's not always easy to do as Jesus commands us, and forgiveness is a hard one for sure sometimes, depending on what the other person did or said. Even Jesus' disciples understood that this command would be hard to follow sometimes so they asked Jesus to increase their faith. Jesus told them if they had faith the size of a mustard seed (teeny tiny little thing but it can grow to be a very large tree) they could tell the sycamine tree (he was probably pointing at one near them) and tell it to be picked up by the roots and be planted in the sea, and it would be done. Interesting stuff there.
I looked up the word sycamine, and the sites I saw said that Luther called that a mulberry tree. However, I read an article by a man named Rick Renner on just this subject. He said in his posting that the mulberry and the sycamine are cousins. The sycamine has a very deep root system that reaches far down into the earth. Those trees get a really strong grip on the earth and don't tend to want to let go. Kind of like when we let a misunderstanding or or other hurt fester into anger and resentment and bitterness. We do like to hang on to our grudges sometimes, don't we? Mr. Renner had quite an interesting post there comparing the sycamine to anger and bitterness and I hope you get a chance to read it. He said something interesting that stuck with me: the sycamine tree is pollinated by wasp stings. The wasp stings the fruit and the tree and that's how it does its thing.
I don't like wasps. I've been stung by a few. I'm allergic to those little critters, or at least their stings. What do some people say when they don't want to forgive another? 'He stung me once too often. I'm not going to forgive him.' And the bitterness grows and bears more fruit. But. Let's look at our own lives. What have we done to offend God? Even after baptism we continue to sin, unknowingly as well as knowingly. We continue to ask forgiveness and God continues to forgive. He knows our hearts. If God does that for us, shouldn't we do the same for those who hurt us? Luke 11:4, in the model prayer that Jesus gives as an example of how to pray says And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
Have a great day.