Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14
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
The average person breathes about 28,800 times a day. Did you know that? That’s a whole lot of hot air. I wonder if that’s enough to fill a hot air balloon? If the average adult breath is about 1 liter of air, and if the average hot air balloon is about 77,000 cubic meters of air…how many of us would it take breathing all day long to fill a hot air balloon? Somebody do the math on that and give us the answer in the comments!
For the Christ-follower, forgiving is a lot like breathing. I think when Jesus corrected Peter in Matthew 18, saying we are to forgive seventy times seven, what He meant is that we’re not even keeping score like that. We don’t count at all, because we will be doing it way too much to keep track! For us, it is like breathing. We breathe in and we breathe out…we forgive. We breathe in and we breathe out…we forgive again. That is the way it is supposed to be in the church.
Forgiveness may be the most misunderstood concept in Christendom. That’s ironic, because forgiveness, it seems, is supposed to be the hallmark of the …
I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 (NASB)
I grew up with a pretty healthy dose of Zig Ziglar and Norman Vincent Peale and The Power of Positive Thinking…or at least with my Dad’s slightly more scriptural version of that philosophy. Dad used to always say to me, “Son, with God’s help, you can accomplish anything you set your mind on accomplishing…and you can be anything you set your mind on being.”
Honestly, I am not sure I ever really believed that.
I just never really bought into the promise that, “through God, I could do all things.” The whole notion of being some kind of spiritual superhero sounded glamorous and all, but it raised a few questions in my mind. First of all, what if I set my mind on being God? Could I accomplish that? Secondly, shouldn’t there be some moral correlation to that rule? Or is it really anything at all to which I set my mind? And what if what I really set my mind to accomplish conflicts with what you really set your mind to accomplish? Then what?
I had a thousand questions about this concept, especially the secular version of it. But even the scriptural version gave me trouble: I can do all things through him who strengthens me. It would be many years before I would begin to understand it.
As it turns out (I would later learn), being empowered by God is not quite the same thing as being gifted with super powers which I could then go and use either for evil or for good. Moreover, it does not even mean that my story will always be powerful or successful or even meaningful. In fact, being the kind of Christ-follower Paul describes …