Why won’t you just tell your sister you’re sorry? It’s just two simple words and that’s what we do when we hurt someone’s feelings. “You said saying I’m sorry wasn’t enough, so I’m not saying it anymore,” he replied. Hmmm….
He was right, I did say something similar a few days back. It was one of those evenings, when some act of disobedience turned into a full meltdown fight. I had carried him kicking and screaming into his room and shut the door. This act needed a time out – for both of us! Usually a little time out does the trick to calm him down as he doesn’t like to be in his room alone. Sure enough, he popped his head out immediately and said “I’m sorry. Can I come out now?”
This time, though, there needed to be consequences, he needed to serve the time out. Not sure who needed the time out more – me or him – but we definitely needed some quiet apart time after the tantrum we’d just been through. But, he didn’t understand why he still needed the time out since he’d said “I’m sorry”.
I explained that saying “I’m sorry” is important and is necessary, but sometimes our actions also have consequences, like a time out. Saying “I’m sorry” sometimes isn’t enough. Ugh – I guess that is what my little literalist heard from me…
I was reminded of this passage where Peter asks Jesus about forgiveness. How many times do we have to forgive someone who hurts us? Peter thought surely we don’t have to forgive them more than seven times?
[guestpost]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 (NIV)[/guestpost]
The Jewish law at that time held that you only had to forgive someone three times, but not the fourth. Peter thought he was being generous to double what the law required. Yet, Jesus replied with a ridiculously large number, implying that our forgiveness should be without limit. He didn’t give any other specifications either, like you only have to forgive if the other person says they’re sorry or if they suffer appropriate consequences.
Why wasn’t it enough for me that he said “I’m sorry?” According to Jesus, we don’t even need that much to offer our forgiveness. When we come to Jesus with an “I’m sorry”, he opens his arms and takes us in. He doesn’t dole out punishment or make us earn our way back into his good graces. He never needs a time out from us.
I’m so grateful our Heavenly Father is so forgiving and welcomes me back so freely each time I come to Him asking for forgiveness.
“I’m sorry” should be enough for us to forgive – more than enough. In fact, we are called to forgive even if the other person doesn’t apologize.
Lord, forgiveness is hard! Help to open my heart to forgive freely. You always see the good in me, so open my eyes to see the good in those around me. Amen!
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