“God wants me to forgive THEM?!”

To see people holding on to grudges breaks my heart.

Be angry but do not sin;u do not let the sun set on your anger,*27and do not leave room for the devil.v28The thief must no longer steal, but rather labor, doing honest work* with his [own] hands, so that he may have something to share with one in need.w29No foul language should come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for needed edification, that it may impart grace to those who hear.x30And do not grieve the holy Spirit of God, with which you were sealed for the day of redemption.*31All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice.y32[And] be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.zBe angry but do not sin;u do not let the sun set on your anger,*27and do not leave room for the devil.v28The thief must no longer steal, but rather labor, doing honest work* with his [own] hands, so that he may have something to share with one in need.w29No foul language should come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for needed edification, that it may impart grace to those who hear.x30And do not grieve the holy Spirit of God, with which you were sealed for the day of redemption.*31All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice.y32[And] be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ. 

(Ephesians 4:26-32).

Then there’s this:

21n Then Peter approaching asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?”22* Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.23o That is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants.24* When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.25Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt.26

We must forgive if we want God to forgive us. Our Dear Lord makes this point many tmes:

* At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’27Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan.28When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount.* He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, ‘Pay back what you owe.’29Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’30But he refused. Instead, he had him put in prison until he paid back the debt.31Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair.32His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.33p Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’34Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt.*35* q So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.”

(Matthew 18:21-35).

“That’s a lot of times!” said Junior Asparagus.

In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.*8Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

The Lord’s Prayer.9* “This is how you are to pray:c

Our Father in heaven,*

hallowed be your name,

10your kingdom come,*

your will be done,

on earth as in heaven.d

11* e Give us today our daily bread;

12and forgive us our debts,*

as we forgive our debtors;f

13and do not subject us to the final test,*

but deliver us from the evil one.g

14* If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you.h15But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.

Matthew 6:5-14).

“This is hard teaching,” the disciples said when Jesus first proclaimed the Eucharist (John 6:20), and certainly it applies to our duty to forgive, as well.

“Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?” (Luke 5:23)

I think for many Christians it is easier to “babble like the pagans” then say “rise up and walk,” than it is for them to say “I forgive you” or even “Please forgive me.”

In both the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom and the Divine Liturgy of St. Gregory the Great, we pray for forgiveness *immediately* before receiving Communion–are we not already forgiven?  If we’re going to communion, we should be confident that we’re not conscious of any mortal sins.  When we wake up, when we pray Morning Prayer, when we pray before Mass, and at the beginning of the Liturgy, we pray for forgiveness of our venial sins.  Why does the Liturgy call us to repent one last time before going to Communion?

Well, are we recollected?  I know I rarely am.  I get distracted.  I think about my kids behavior and I start getting angry.  Odds are there’s someone there I’m not getting along with–maybe even a member of the clergy or one of the lay ministers–and I think about that  in a non-prayerful manner.  Maybe I think inappropriate-for-the-situation thoughts about my wife.  Maybe there’s a woman who’s immodestly dressed, and I sin by either thinking lustfully or angrily.

“The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”–so much so that we can’t even make it through the very Divine Liturgy without sinning! And our Fathers in the faith were so wise that they built it into the Liturgy!

The Lord reminds us in the Sermon on the Mount that thinking sinfully is bad, too.  In the Byzantine version of the Confiteounforgiveness. r, it says that Christ “came to save sinners, of whom I am the greatest.”  I was shown in April 2013 that this is not just pious language.  Each of us is the greatest of sinners because if we’re thinking about it, and not doing it, we’re still entertaining the sin in our hearts *and being slothful about sinning*.

15“I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot.* I wish you were either cold or hot.16* So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:15-16).

Those words kept coming to me.

I got to see what a repulsive person I would be if I actually the kinds of things I used to think. I surrendered my will to God, and He freed me from a lot of the temptations that used to plague me.
As I started to regain consciousness, I laid in bed thinking of “seventy times seven” but thinking it was “seventy times seventy,” and forgetting whether that was the number of times I was supposed to forgive or ask forgiveness. I tried individually praying for forgiveness to and from every person I could thinkin of. Then I thought how that seemed impossible, so I just started praying the Jesus Prayer and the Our Father over and over, nonstop, till I “came out of it.” I’m not sinless, by any means, but the experience freed me from a lot of bad habits and chronic temptations, and I was largely freed from judgementalism and unforgiveness. Behaviors that used to make me angry now make me sad.

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