Tahoma – Growing up, my sister had a hair-trigger temper. It didn’t take much to get into fights. She’d get mad at something I did, we’d yell back at each other and when we just about had enough, she always made me apologize. Over the years it became more and more difficult to say I was sorry. Eventually we had arguments over the proper way to say that I was sorry. For some reason saying “I’m sorry for so and so and I won’t ever do it again.” was sort of like me saying “I’m sorry for breathing and I won’t ever do it again.” That’s how it always seemed to me, anyway. (Considering some of the things she got mad at me for, I think I did have to apologize for breathing.) It just didn’t make sense how it fit into the Biblical lessons about forgiveness.
I’ve seen what unforgiveness has done. My grandfather died not having forgiven his son-in-law because he favored his son’s account of an incident. My grandmother refuses to forgive her sister for any slight in her past because she believes her sister was the favorite and therefore had nicer things than her. It has created rifts in old friendships. Driven families into quarreling. Caused nations to go to war. Well, maybe not that drastic, but it could one day.
The Bible doesn’t lay down any conditions for forgiveness, no jumping through hoops, no reciting of offenses, nothing. Just forgive and forgive and forgive. Remember that your brother has something against you? Go and be reconciled then continue about what you were doing. (Matthew 5:23-24.) Bear with each other, forgive whatever grievances you may have with one another, and forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13) If your brother comes to you seven times a day and says he is sorry, forgive him. (Luke 17:3-4) Forgive people seventy times seven times. (Matthew 18:22.)
Four hundred and ninty times. It’s too difficult a number to keep count. When you loose track, you have to start over again. And so, my dear sister, I’m truely sorry for any and every offense I comitted on purpose just to bother you and I’m all the more sorry for the things I didn’t realize I did that made you mad all those years ago I’m sorry for any toys I might have broken. I’m can only hope that you find it possible to forgive our father and finally that you forgive yourself. If you need me to jump through hoops to find your forgiveness, I will. I just can’t remember everything that I ever did wrong, so I can’t tell you exactly what I’m sorry for because even I don’t know.