By Dr. Dan Wuori
You might remember that last week’s Gospel lesson was about solving problems. Jesus told the disciples about several things they could try if someone did something unkind – or “sinned against” – them.
Do you remember? He told them that when someone has done something unkind that a good first step is talking with them privately to see if the problem can be solved. (And a lot of times it can!) But solving – or stopping – the problem is only part of what needs to be done.
Then we have to forgive. Do you know what that word means? (Solicit children’s answers)
When we forgive others we make a decision to stop being hurt and angry – and we move on. We don’t just tell the other person that everything is okay – we decide in our hearts to let things be over. Sometimes that’s hard, isn’t it?
When people are unkind it can hurt our feelings. Sometimes it’s easier to solve the problem than to truly forgive someone who has hurt us.
But Jesus tells us that we must. Not only must we forgive – but we may even have to keep doing it over and over.
In today’s lesson Peter asks Jesus just how many times we need to be ready to forgive someone. He even makes a suggestion. Peter asks if seven times is enough?
That seems like a lot. What do you think? If someone was unkind to you do you think you could forgive them for it seven times?
It would be hard, wouldn’t it? But Jesus tells Peter that even seven times isn’t enough! Instead he tells him that we need to forgive 77 times! (And do you know what? I think that even that isn’t what Jesus really means. He means that we need to keep forgiving and forgiving…as many times as it takes.)
Shall we pray for the patience to forgive?
Forgiving those who hurt us can be so hard. Give us the strength to forgive – just as you forgive our own shortcomings.
Copyright 2008, Dan Wuori. Used by permission.