…the parched land shall become a pool, and the thirsty lands springs of water…(Isaiah 35:7)

Have Patience With Me

The Timing of Forgiveness

By Rex Goode


Jesus and Peter

"How Oft Shall I Forgive?"

Peter, who was known during the mortal ministry of Jesus, was known for his deep, but impetuous feelings. Well known are his efforts to develop his faith, which he did through trial and error. It took him many mistakes to become the great apostle he was.

Jesus, patiently and firmly, taught him the lessons he needed to learn to lead the Church in primitive times. From Peter’s attempts to walk on water to his denial of Jesus, Peter line upon line and precept upon precept learned what it was to be a follower of Christ.

Of his many questions, one stands out for me. In Matthew 18:21, Peter asked, “Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?”

Jesus answered him that he should forgive others 490 times. Of course, that was not meant to be literal. If it were, I would need to keep a notebook with tick marks in it for everyone I know. What a sad way to spend life.

In the same chapter, Jesus told the parable of the unforgiving servant. In that story, a servant is called upon by the king to give an account of himself. He owed the king ten thousand talents, a might sum. The king forgives him the debt, whereupon the same servant goes out and finds a fellow servant who owes him a trifling amount and demands payment The first servant does not accept his comrade’s pleas and puts him in prison. When the king hears of it, he puts the first servant in prison.

This parable tells us that God has forgiven us a vast fortune of misdeeds and it behooves us to forgive all of those who owe us very little by comparison. I know that in my life, I owe God infinitely more than anyone owes me.

In the story, both servants make the same request when payment is demanded. “Have patience with me,” they plead.

As much as it is difficult to forgive those who keep hurting us, it is also difficult to forgive quickly. As I pondered and wrote about some hurts I had received through someone lashing out at me behind my back (see My Misfortune Cookie), I got the difficult news that now more than two years later, my name is still being ill used and talked about. This from someone who promised confidentiality. He should not even have admitted knowing me.

Two days ago, I wrote a plan of how I would react which included as its very first step, forgiveness. Yesterday, I discovered that the campaign is ongoing, the wave still crashing. As I tried to implement in my life my plan as outlined in the following steps, I sought in my mind the scriptures I know about forgiveness.

The first one in my head was the one quoted above. As I recited it to myself, it occurred to me that I needed to substitute the word “soon” for the word “oft.” It came into my head as, “Lord, how soon shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?”

Considering it in that context, it confirms something I’ve long believed (see Revenge Is Not Sweet). I’ve often thought about how the Lord ties his forgiveness of our sins to how often we forgive others. I also believed in the same thought that he forgives me as quickly as I forgive others.

As a social worker with a mind geared towards social problems, I have seen many different beliefs about forgiveness. While most people recognize forgiveness as a necessary virtue in healing, there are varying ideas about how it is accomplished. It includes everything from the idea that it just comes naturally when you are ready to the idea that you just have to decide to do it.

I tend to fall more in the camp of the latter, but also recognize that it is not merely a matter of deciding to forgive. To me, it is a matter of saying, “I know I need to forgive and I’m going to work on doing just that.”

I thought a lot about the idea that you can’t even start to forgive until the wrong is completed. Today, I am pondering that that is not true. It seems to be the utmost in forgiveness to forgive while the deed is in progress. Consider the Savior’s own example.

The Crucifixion

Father, forgive them

From the cross, he uttered, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34).” He didn’t wait until the deed was done and then say, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they did.”

So, regarding the recent and ongoing campaign to impugn me, I say, “I know I need to forgive immediately, even while my name continues to be used unkindly.”

By saying this, I would be dishonest to claim that I’m doing it with ease. When I heard yesterday that I am still being talked about, I felt my anger rising up. I closed my eyes a moment, thought to myself that I can let go of this. I don’t have to let it ruin the good time I was having.

I hope that by doing this with more faith and more immediacy, I assure that the Lord will have patience with me in the same way by forgiving me even while I am in the process of sinning.

3 people like this post.

3 Responses to “Have Patience With Me”

  1. Ross said:

    I admire the way you are handling this, I couldn’t do what you are doing. I would be tempted to find him and beat the smurf out of him.

    On the bright side ( the trite and easy for me to say side ), you are growing from this experience.

  2. Rex Goode said:

    Ross, thanks. My son says he is using “beat the scurf out” 😉

  3. Rex Goode said:

    Thanks, Ross. My son says he plans to use “beat the smurf out of him.”

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