“If your brother sins, rebuke him;
and if he repents, forgive him.
And if he wrongs you seven times in one day
and returns to you seven times saying, ‘I am sorry,’
you should forgive him.” (Lk 17:3-4)
Many people think that Jesus set the bar of discipleship awfully high. After all, He taught that those who would follow Him should love, should forgive, should have mercy, should live not for themselves but for others. These virtues go contrary to human nature, do they not?
Our tainted human nature tells us that we should love but, also, that we could put conditions to our love. Our nature tells us that forgiveness is not necessary. It is weak people who forgive. The strong do not. Nor do the strong show mercy. They are merciless. Finally, our human nature tells us that it is more than acceptable to live for ourselves. We do not have to have anyone else’s needs in mind.
We need to admit these things about ourselves. If we do not, we have a hard time understanding why Jesus’ teachings were so distressful to those who heard them. Jesus’ teachings were demanding that the people get out of themselves, out of their own comfort zones, and focus their time, attention, and energy upon others.
We have to be thankful that Jesus did not succumb to our human nature when He took on flesh and became a man Himself. Can you imagine what it would be like if our God decided that it was all right to love conditionally, to withhold forgiveness, and to be merciless? I do not want even to consider such a possibility.
Our God is a God of love, of forgiveness, of mercy.
It would behoove us to pattern ourselves after Him.
FAITH ACTION: Is there anyone in your life today who could use a good, healthy dose of love, forgiveness, and mercy? If so, give it to them!