I tend to like British humour. British folk tend to use the word “brilliant.” This blogpost has nothing to do with either of those tendencies. Here are a few samples from the book The Most Brilliant Thoughts of All Time.
The graveyards are full of indispensable men. – Charles de Gaulle
I’ll tag onto this the observation that men and women who die before their time—and, to some extent, anyone who dies—always end up being better than they were. It would be un-P.C. (and by the negation I don’t mean Mac advocacy; that would be even more abhorrent) to list JFK, MLKjr, or even Roberto Clemente among these, so I won’t.
Nobody forgets where he buried the hatchet. – Kin Hubbard
It’s much easier to use pithy phrases like “bury the hatchet” than actually to forgive. And yet, that’s precisely what Jesus did. Followers of Jesus need to forgive. Personally, I not only know where a couple of hatchets are, and the handles are sticking up out of the ground. I’ve considered going to the offenders and speaking out a) the offense and b) the words “I forgive you.” So far, I’ve avoided such radical action—it’s easier to be radical in large groups than by oneself—for two reasons.
- In the first case, the guy knows he’s offended me, so there’s almost no point, because we’ve just moved on, more or less. And if I tried to say anything personal or spiritually minded, he would interrupt me, not having heard me, anyway.
- In the second case, the gal (hey, I’m on a non-P.C. roll!) would certainly listen, but it would almost feel selfish or presumptuous or somehow overplayed to bring this out in the open at this point. On the one hand, it shouldn’t have gone this long without my dealing with it. On the other hand, maybe it wasn’t that big a deal to begin with, and I just needed to look the other way. On the one hand, she was in somewhat of an authority role, and it could have proven detrimental to me personally to express the offense. On the other hand, well, I do still remember the hatchet.
Above my inept, defensive musings, and above Hubbard’s pith, come the voices of Paul and Jesus:
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if someone happens to have a complaint against anyone else. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also forgive others. (Col. 3:12-13)
Then Peter came to him and said, “Lord, how many times must I forgive my brother who sins against me? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, I tell you, but seventy-seven times! (Matt. 18:21)
It seems to me, in view of the difference between Luke’s and Matthew’s account of this saying, that the emphasis is on the forgiver, not on the repenter.