Lessons in Humility and Forgiveness

Matthew 5:20-26
2 Cor 3:15–4:1.3-6 / Ps 85:9-14

. . . leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come back and offer your gift.
(Matthew 5:23-24)

Lord, I bring my case to Your altar,
Pray, how does one love his enemy?
Despite his faults, love him no matter,
Forgiveness is the best remedy.

Jesus said, “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, `You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, `You fool!’ shall be liable to fiery Gehenna. So if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Settle with your opponent quickly while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny.”

Reflection

Anger, if not controlled, can lead to a killing — if not of the body, then of the soul. Only in extreme cases –- as in the defilement of the temple by money-changers — is anger justified to rectify a wrong. But uttering words of insult, such as ‘imbecile’ or ‘fool’ against another will make one liable for judgment, because insulting words always arouse anger. On the other hand, kind words always tend to diffuse a tense or volatile situation.

Indeed it is a wise and prudent man who can hold his tongue and temper when he is unfairly provoked. In an intimate sharing on humility and forgiveness, two brothers in our community gave witness to the power of these two virtues during a breakfast fellowship. Bro. Uly related how his direct superior in the drug distribution company where he was employed barged into his office one day to criticize the performance of his sales network. He said he could have retaliated in kind because the unjust accusation came from a brash VP who was obviously uninformed about the situation in the field. Instead, Bro. Uly calmly explained the factors behind the low figures, which were beyond his team’s control, and cited their over-all production, which was actually higher than the industry standard. Fortunately, he said, he was well-prepared, and showed the complete data and charts to back up his position. His boss later sent him a text message apologizing for his rude behaviour.

Bro. Rene shared his own experience in his small canteen business. They were five concessionaires in a new school who had agreed to keep their snack and lunch items at the same selling prices to avoid cutthroat competition. All of them had become friends, but after only a few days of operation, one of the concessionaires decided to sell his foodstuffs at much lower prices, and the others could only wonder whatever happened to their previous unwritten agreement. Unable to foresee any profit from this development, Bro. Rene decided to close shop, informing the school of his decision. He knew that the errant concessionaire was only waiting to take over his stall, but when he saw the latter, he showed no rancour, but instead shook his hand and wished him well. Shortly afterwards, Bro. Rene received an offer to open a much bigger canteen in another school. He said this must have been the Lord’s way of opening another door to His forgiving servant.

You forgave the guilt of Your people, pardoned all our sins. (Ps 85:3) Amen.

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