Lessons in Humility and Forgiveness

Matthew 5:20-26
Ex 18:21-28 / Ps 130

If you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, 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.

“I tell you,” (Jesus said), “unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the sanhedrin; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser 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 until you have paid the last penny.” (Matthew 5:20-26)


The rage of anger, if not controlled, may 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 — did Jesus justify a moment of anger to rectify a wrong. He said, “Whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.” (Mt.5:22) Uttering words of insult, such as ‘imbecile’ or ‘fool’ against another will also make one liable for judgment, because insulting words always arouse anger. As our Lord reminds us, “Whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.”

It is a wise and prudent man who can hold his temper when he is provoked unfairly. In an intimate sharing about humility and forgiveness, two friends gave witness to the power of these two virtues during a prayer assembly. One related how his direct superior in a marketing company where he worked 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, he 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 behavior. The other 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 agreement. Unable to foresee any profit from this development, my friend 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 owner, he shook his hand and wished him well. Shortly afterwards, my friend received an offer to open a much bigger canteen in another school. He said this must be 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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