We have just posted a sermon called Letter From a Friend. It begins like this:
"I need to ask your forgiveness."
Thus began a letter from a friend. The letter went on to describe a situation that was very understandable to me. During a phone call with someone else, my friend made a comment that he now regretted. And so he now wrote to ask my forgiveness.In his letter my friend said that after the phone call, he felt very much saddened by what he had said. The Holy Spirit had shown him that he must seek my forgiveness. "So I ask of you mercy and appeal to you for forgiveness if you might find it in your heart. My sin is against God (and) against you . . . I am like the man who cried out, "O God, be merciful to me, the sinner." As soon as I read the letter, I knew I must give my friend a phone call. When he heard my voice, he said, "You're not mad at me, are you?" He truly felt terrible over what he had said, and he earnestly sought my forgiveness. I told him that I would be glad to forgive him, instantly and completely. And then we had a very good conversation. As I pondered the conversation later, two thoughts came to mind:
1) The man who felt so bad about what he had said is a fine Christian man. Everyone who knows him knows that he is good and gentle and full of the grace of our Lord.
2) His tone over the phone was the same as in his letter. He was eager to make things right between us. He had no excuses to make, offered no defense, and made no alibis.
But here is what struck me the most. What he said was a very small thing indeed. It didn’t seem very large to me at all. I understood what he said and why he said it. I do not say that to make light of his letter or his sincere repentance but rather to highlight his sensitive conscience before the Lord. What he said to a third party (which ordinarily I would never even have known about) bothered him so much that he felt like he must write and ask my forgiveness.
I wonder how many of us would do something like that?