Forgiveness…A Repetition Worth Repeating

This morning I was considering the fundamentals of strength training and how weight training plans are designed to build strength into our muscles and our physical body. Weight training jargon always uses ‘sets’ and ‘repetitions’ to describe how many times an exercise participant should lift, push or pull a given amount of weight to obtain the desired fitness outcome. In weight training, muscles can be trained for power, or strength or endurance. The amount of weight used and the number of sets and repetitions varies depending on the participant’s goal. For some unknown reason (maybe inspiration?) when I thought about how many sets and repetitions are required to build endurance in our muscles, I immediately thought about a question that St. Peter once asked Jesus: “How many times do I forgive my brother who has wronged me? Seven?” (Matthew 18:21-22). In weight training, seven times (or repetitions) is the range that a participant would use to build power in their muscles: fast, ballistic, scary big muscle power. In a sense, Peter was flexing his big, powerful ‘faith’ muscle by suggesting a forgiveness repetition of seven times. He knew it took a lot of strength to forgive the SAME person, for the same transgression, seven times in a row; but his forgiveness building goal was too short sighted. It was a short term goal that could not overcome a long term problem. Jesus wanted to teach Peter something about endurance, because that’s what a repetition range of seventy times seven will build! Those kinds of repetitions are designed to build stamina into our muscles, wherever those muscles are located, body or soul. Realize this: the weight required to build endurance is LIGHTER THAN the weight required to build strength or power. Forgiveness repetitions are meant to be light enough that you can forgive those who transgress against you many, many, many times throughout the days, weeks, and years of your life. Some heavy forgiveness repetitions are required in every life too, but overall, if we practice high repetitions we lay a foundation to build strength into our muscles as well. So the next time you flex and extend your muscles, think about how this translates into your relationships:
FLEXING = receiving forgiveness  ~  EXTENDING = giving forgiveness

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