Thursday, September 15, 2011


Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." (Matthew 18:21-22)
During the school year, I attend a mid-week Methodist prayer meeting on the campus across the street from work.  We get together to read a passage from the lectionary three times, share briefly about what speaks to us from that passage, sing a song, and pray for ourselves and the world.  The chaplains who lead this meeting are well aware that I am a Quaker and, though it is not my tradition, I enjoy the liturgy.

Yesterday, we read the passage from Matthew on how many times we should forgive someone who sins against us.  It is a familiar passage, and I had always understood those verses to mean that we should forgive our brother each time he sins against us.

That's hard.  

But as I listened to the verses and then read them aloud myself, I heard them a different way.  I realized that I also need to keep forgiving another person who has wronged me for the same thing.

It is so much easier to forgive someone than to keep forgiving them.  I will forgive someone for something and think I am over it, but then later (sometimes months later!), I will feel angry and hurt again about whatever it was that happened.

Letting go is hard.  Forgiving over and over is hard.  But maybe if I do it seventy-seven times, it will actually stick.


  1. You're right, that is hard! Maybe one of the hardest things to do. Time can fade the injury, or give me time to reflect on it and decide I was far more wronged than I initially thought. And then, how often that fills me with anger. I have been treated so unfairly! Yet if I work at letting go, I find myself much happier...

    It's interesting that, for me, an anger followed rather than let go, lingers rather than being satisfied. The memory I take away from the situation is one of being wronged and of making sure the world knew it. The story I end with is one in which I was injured. Carrying that kind of narrative around doesn't make me a gentler, kinder, more spiritual person. It clouds my judgment and deafens me to the still small voice.

    Thanks for posting this, Friend.


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