Matthew 18:21-22 – Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." (NIV)
1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (NIV)
My dachshund, Toby, is very clever. Sometimes, however, he does not want to listen to me, or he forgets to do what I ask him.
One day, Toby went to work with me at the church. In my office, he discovered a bowl of water and several toy bones. Needing to settle down to the tasks at hand, I asked him to lie down and stay put. Looking at me, he wagged his tail in understanding, chose a big bone from the pile, and commenced to chomp away.
Like most dogs, Toby can smell things that people can't. So, while I was busy, he quietly got up, and began to follow his nose. He forgot what I had asked him to do.
Time flew. Finally, I took a break to play with Toby. Imagine my surprise when I saw that he was gone. When he didn't come as I called his name, I went looking for him.
What a big mess I found! Right in the middle of Sunday morning's coffee-time garbage sat Toby with a styrofoam cup stuck tight on his nose. I was very annoyed, and, snatching the cup off, I sent him packing to the office.
Later, when all the mess was cleaned up, Toby came and put his head on my knee. I knew this was his way of saying he was sorry, but I was still cross with him, and pushed him away.
At home that evening, Toby brought me his ball, but I wouldn't play with him. He went away quietly and sat looking at me. That was when I began to feel uncomfortable inside. Imagine my surprise when I realized that I had forgotten something too! I had forgotten to forgive.
We need to ask for God's help to remind us to be just as gracious and loving with our loved ones, neighbours, co-workers and, yes, even our enemies, when they hurt us either by choice or unwittingly, as God has been with us.
Prayer: O God, how often you forgive us when we foolishly choose to not obey you, or have simply forgotten what you have asked of us. Continue to help us to grow to be a people of love and forgiveness, that our lights might shine and glorify you. In Jesus' name. Amen.