How often are our own mistakes forgivable

Conflict Culture: Duty to Forgive - How Often Should One Forgive?

"And if he sins against you seven times a day and comes back to you seven times and says: I want to change, you shall forgive him." (Lk 17.4)


The duty to forgive (Mt 18: 21-22, Lk 17.3-4)

Here a consideration in the sense of the Christian culture of conflict can be brief: the believer should willingly, limitlessly and always forgive.

With Matthew, this does not even require a confession, repentance or a resolution for improvement. With Lukas one should take unswervingly benevolent note of someone else's rhetorical phrase that he will get better, although its superficiality can get on the nerves even more.

The form of language that is not in use today is interesting: “Someone has sinned against me.” What does that mean? What can be meant concretely? Even in the time of the evangelists, this expression was a generalization that summarized various experiences and abstracted them to a certain extent. Much can be included in it.

This requires thinking about what has happened: I am aware of the situation with all its circumstances and think through the behavior of the other; I come to a disappointing result: he did something bad against me.

According to Matthew, he doesn't even have to notice this. There is actually a feeling of guilt in others that is not intentional, that goes unnoticed. A little recklessness can happen in inattention, but it can hurt. Since this is certainly an act against the will of God, such an objectively seen “little thing” is described as “sin”. A reprimand can even be made without reproach because of the low weight of the act. You just make it clear (possibly with humor) and help the other to be more attentive, more considerate the next time. If he responds - well, that helps. If he cannot see his mistake or if it does not affect him, then his empty intentions may be seen as an external sign of good will that is not carried out internally. After all, it shows that there is fundamentally a bond and should remain upright, although one will be irritated by the uselessness of conversations. On a common foundation of belief or conviction, this is still manageable - and forgivable.

A Christian culture of conflict occasionally needs distance from a specific situation. If you stay entangled in these and only react immediately and directly, you overlook solutions that are on other levels. Distance helps, as does the ability to linguistically classify what has been experienced: e.g. as a "sin", whereby it is not about rhetorical exaggeration or spiritualization. With the formula “someone has sinned against me”, the experienced (subjective) reality is brought before God and considered. God becomes involved in the conflict and can mediate his response through the example and words of Jesus.

This creates an opportunity for a Christian culture of conflict: in the interpretation of conflict-laden experiences before God, it becomes clearer to me that I am guilty of my own or that of others. According to my observations, I can then begin to resolve the conflict in myself, in conversation with others, in my own actions, as is appropriate.

When I realize my own guilt, I slip into the role of the “brother who has sinned” in this passage from the Bible and to whom forgiveness and a new acceptance are promised.

If someone else was guilty of me, the example of Jesus may appear to me to be generous in forgiving me in other places where greater things are at stake than what I have experienced (e.g. forgiveness of Jesus on the cross, Lk 23, 34).

With such an attitude we can continue on our common path. The "sin" to be overcome with it will not divide us apart despite its burden.