Lord, how often shall my brother offend against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?Jesus saith to him: I say not to thee, till seven times; but till seventy times seven times.
For a just man shall fall seven times and shall rise again: but the wicked shall fall down into evil.
Did He Say 7 Times? Yeah, But Who’s Cares What God Says?
Recently a friend of mine was speaking with a Priest who brought up a man they both knew who had had several falls in his past. He was criticizing that man and letting my friend know that he felt that the man had blown his opportunity to do anything for God. My friend listened for a few minutes and then he asked the priest, “Has he fallen seven times?”
The Priest was startled and said, “Uh, I don’t know. Why?”
My friend said, “Well, the scripture says that if he has fallen seven times and still tries to rise again that makes him a just man. Who are you to decide when he is through?”
His answer reflects the flawed logic of almost every Catholic I know. In fact I would estimate that 99% of priest whether Sedevicantist, Novus Ordo, or Independent use this humanistic logic. He said, “Yes, but I hate to see him cause more damage to the cause of Christ.”
“Wait,” my friend said, “It is not for you to decide what happens as the result of obedience. It is your job to obey what God says to do and that is to restore the man. It is God’s cause so I am certain He can take care of it.”
That is what we miss. We are so prideful that we justify disobedience. Actually I think its our own interests we are trying to protect, not the Lord’s. We don’t want to have to deal with the messiness of someone falling.
Tell me this. When you are teaching your child to ride a bicycle are they given a limit to the number of times they can fall before you give up on them? If your elderly parent fell a number of times would you tell them, “Sorry mom, you fell one too many times for me to help you?” Or would you work harder to help protect them from another fall? How about this?
How many times have you looked at porn and promised that you would stop and then gone back and secretly looked at it again, or lost your temper, or whatever? Huh? Think about it. Is your child only allowed a certain number of sicknesses?
Let’s face it we are hypocrites and disobedient.
We are guilty of slandering and throwing away our fellow catholic brothers and sisters who have fallen several times rather than taking more responsibility for them. That is not Catholic. I am weary at the haughtiness of Catholics who pretend they have only failed God once so they are better.
Let me take it a step further. In most cases the ones we give a one fall limit are those who fell into sexual sins. People with drug and alcohol addiction, those who gossip or who are non tithers, etc are given plenty of opportunities to get back up. Why the difference in treatment? I think it is because we are scared of sexual sins. We do not recognize that it can be as addictive as any other sin and victory can sometimes be extremely difficult.
So do we just throw away a child of God because we are too cowardly to face it? It is shameful to see the powerless priest who won’t get their hands dirty to help their own parishioners. YOU are without excuse. You are disobedient. And by the way, the same goes for the laity out in the pew. We all should be helping the down trodden.
In no way should we minimize the responsibility of the one who sins, but likewise we cannot flee our responsibility to restore them every time they fall. Only when they refuse your help can you excuse your lack of effort and even then you ought to make certain that you stand ready to help when they are ready to get up again.
Are you more worried about what your friends will say because you gave a guy a chance? Yeah, don’t worry about what God thinks.
One excuse that is prevalent is that men love to compare every fallen person to David. David is a wonderful example of the perfect model of coming back after a fall. Please remember the depth of David’s fall as well. David did not commit a single act of sin. His was a notorious series of events that required Nathan to come and finally point them out to him. Abraham committed multiple sins before his heart was perfected. Peter denied not once but three times and then he left everything and went back fishing. I wish we were all as perfect as David but that is not the case. There are times when a person falls repeatedly before they get to the place David was. Why do we discount every one who does not come back to God like he did? Do we expect every convert to be as zealous as Paul was? Of course not. Paul was a unique man as is every convert. Each one grows in their own way. Many fall back into old sins many times before getting the victory.
My admonition is that we give people as many chances as they require.
If they fall seven times and get back up seven times we should rejoice each time knowing it may not be the last but hoping it will be. What we should not do is discount their sincerity. Let God be the judge. I am not saying we put them back into the same position but we often reject them altogether from our churches.
Recently I have been dealing with a man who has fallen multiple times into sexual sins. No one knows how deeply sorrowful he is. He is broken and wants to win the victory. For some reason he feels that this may be his last chance. It might be. It is possible that he will give up on himself if it happens again. However, I believe that the only way he should be out of chances is if gives up not because we do. I feel his hurt and I sense the depth of his sorrow for his sins. He feels like a failure and the way some Catholics treat him makes it even worse. They shame him and think somehow that is going to fix the problem. IT IS NOT! He needs encouraging now more than ever. This could be the moment he finally breaks through and gets the victory. I believe it is. There is no telling what God will do with this man once he gets that victory, but each time he falls his value decreases in his own mind.
Would to God we took God’s Word seriously. Unfortunately we do, but often only when it is convenient to us.
May God be glorified!