Bear Wrongs Patiently
Week 1 | Spiritual Work of Mercy
“Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love of the brethren, a tender heart and a humble mind. Do not return evil for evil or reviling for reviling; but on the contrary bless, for to this you have been called, that you may obtain a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:8–9)
“Have patience with all things,” urges Saint Francis de Sales, “but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them—every day begin the task anew.”
Several years ago, as I stood in line for the sacrament of confession about to confess for the umpteenth time a sin I couldn’t seem to quit, I began to fear that God’s mercy was running out. I didn’t doubt that God would pardon a person who turned to him after a life of the most heinous sins imaginable. What I did doubt was that he would continue to forgive me.
At that moment, by God’s grace, no doubt, I was reminded of the incident in the Gospel of Matthew when Peter approached Our Lord with a question:
Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:21–22)
Now Jesus did not mean that Peter was to forgive his brother 490 times and then no more. No, rather “seventy times seven” signified perfection and consistency. It then occurred to me, if God’s forgiveness is not like that—perfect and consistent—then Jesus was commanding Peter to act in a way that was contrary to the nature of God.
The truth is, God is infinite in all of his attributes.
Regardless of where you have been or what you have done, be at peace. The same God who forgave Moses the murderer, Rahab the prostitute, David the adulterer, and Peter the denier will forgive you also. All you have to do is seek that forgiveness with a contrite heart. The only sin God won’t forgive is the one you will not ask forgiveness for.
Excerpt taken from Chapter 12 of Beautiful Mercy. Get your free copy of the book (just pay shipping).
Did Jesus act out of a sense of fairness? No, he acted out of love. For love to endure it must be patient, especially in the face of injustice.
This week, love people for who they are—that includes yourself, too.
If someone frustrates you, take a deep breath, and before responding, remind yourself to “have patience with all things.”
Instead of criticizing yourself for a common mistake or fault, ask God to help you let it go and give it to him. Remember how much he loves you.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your never-ending patience with me. Help my actions to be motivated by love, and help me to practice that same patience with myself and with the people around me.