Sunday Services at 10:00am
1155 Silas Deane Highway, Wethersfield
“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:21-22).
When I was a senior in high school, I was the starting shooting guard on the basketball team. Although I was a pretty good player, I had one major flaw, at least in my mind – I looked really bad in a tank top. Sure I could stroke the three-point jump shot with ease, but my skinny arms left me embarrassed every game, sure that the whole crowd was snickering under their breath at my boniness. You can imagine, then, how I was feeling when I found out that my girlfriend and most of my friends would be attending our big game at East Hartford. Knowing that there would be such a large crowd at the game, I resolved to not look like a weak little boy, and worked out my arms with lots of big weights before heading to the game. The result? Every shot I took with my weak – and now tired – arms landed short of the hoop, producing an embarrassing 1-13 performance for me and a four point loss for our team.
I think of that game, and a few other games where I tried the same pregame workout regimen and produced similarly awful results whenever I think of regrets and times I wish I could have a “do-over.” There are many times in my life that I wish I could go back and do over, to not act out of fear or shame, to make wiser decisions or do things differently. Sadly, of course, there is no rewind button on our lives. Many of us are living with the consequences every day of the poor decisions we have made, constant, painful reminders of our brokenness and sin.
However, there is some hope in the midst of our failures: the promise of forgiveness and new beginnings that is found in Jesus Christ. I think of this beautiful passage from Lamentations 3:19-23: “I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” That encouragement, which comes in the midst of a very sorrowful book, is a reminder that every day is new with the Lord, that because of His great love and compassion and faithfulness, there is always hope in the Lord, and our past failings are always forgiven by the Lord. As we enter a New Year, remember this, that the mistakes and failures of the past are covered by the blood of Jesus, and His mercies are new every morning. In Christ, we are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17), not held down by the mistakes of the past.
In the same way, as followers of Christ we are called to treat others with similar compassion. We emulate Christ’s love for us by forgiving each other, by not counting their sins against them but instead by letting people begin again in their relationship with us. As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:5, “Love keeps no record of wrongs.” So as you enter this New Year, bless someone in your life – a spouse, a parent, a child, a friend, a co-worker, an employee, a neighbor – by forgiving them, letting them begin with a fresh slate, giving them the “do-over” they might desperately be yearning for. Forgive as the Lord has forgiven you.
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