Subject: Matthew 18:21-22
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, I tell you, not just seven times, but seventy-seven times!
Let me preface this by saying that the context for this post is an article I wrote earlier titled Loving Your Neighbor.
In that piece I complained about my inconsiderate neighbors. Long story short I recently had to move because the place wasn’t habitable. Moving is very stressful, and I hadn’t been well for some time. I learned on a Monday that I would have to leave, and immediately sat down to pray. Within 24 hours I had signed a lease on a new place.
I’ve moved a lot over the years, and have never found a place so easily. It was amazing, and I thank God. Not only that, the apartment is more than I could have hoped for — it’s below market rent and fully deluxe with laundry, garage and great location. The Lord always provides more than we could even ask (or imagine). His grace is abundant beyond measure.
So how does this relate to our subject verse? Well, the upstairs tenant has a nicotine addiction. I mentioned this in my other post about smokers who move into non-smoking apartments. I have to live in a non-smoking environment because my number one allergy is tobacco smoke.
This guy has been the neighbor from hell. He’s a younger man who stays home all day. Every 20 minutes he comes downstairs for a cigarette break — from 9 o’clock in the morning to 3 o’clock the following morning — that’s 18 hours a day, and 54 cigarettes (almost three packs).
And he moves up and down the stairs like a herd of elephants. It’s driving me crazy. I’m losing my mind. I prayed to God — “Lord, you gave me this great apartment, but …”
I started looking for a new place. I thought about confronting him, but I got the impression from our first encounter that he’s got issues. I started to send an email to the property manager, but deleted it because I don’t want to be tagged as a complainer and have my rent increased.
The tobacco smoke is killing me!
This morning it sounded like Patton’s tanks rolling through Casablanca in 1942. That was the camel that broke the straw — no, I mean the straw that broke the camel’s back. I held my tongue 4860 times — that’s 54 cigarette breaks a day for 90 days (I’ve been here three months).
I bolted outside like the running of the bulls during the festival of San Fermin. There he was … smoking a cigarette at the base of the stairs. But before I could unleash my tongue I noticed that movers were loading his stuff into a moving van.
Hallelujah, Jesus … and pass the butter!
Peter was told to forgive seventy-seven times (or seventy times seven in some translations). I’ve needed the patience of Job to forgive this guy almost 5000 times.
Here’s the thing about that. Some theologians say you only have to forgive a person if they ask to be forgiven — that God’s forgiveness is conditional on our confession and repentance. Also, Peter asked about forgiving a brother not someone who is unsaved. I saw a Christian woman on the news who would not forgive the man who killed her son. What about that?
Pastor and blogger David Murray wrote an interesting article, Let’s Stop Forgiving Those Who Don’t Want Forgiveness.
Then there’s the matter of loving your neighbor. This guy’s nicotine addiction became my problem. That’s not very loving, and it’s in violation of the lease agreement.
I pray that the next tenant will be more considerate.
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