Today’s selected passage continues in the second epistle of the apostle Paul in the New Testament which was written unto the saints which were at Corinth. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the thirteenth and final chapter of the epistle. TWO LETTERS AND THREE VISITS! When you come to these final fourteen verses you will find the second of the apostle’s two letters written unto the Corinthian congregation coming to an end. It’s actually quite interesting to read and consider that out of the various churches which the apostle Paul wrote a letters unto—only the churches of Corinth and Thessalonica each received two letters. Of course if you study the New Testament you will notice that the letters which were written to the saints which were at Corinth were substantially longer in length than those which were written unto the saints of Thessalonica. It’s worth noting that when writing to the saints which were at Corinth the apostle Paul set out to bring correction and rebuke concerning reports he had received regarding this congregation. When writing unto the church of Thessalonica, however, the apostle Paul was writing—not to bring correction and rebuke to a church that was divided and carnal, but to address the reality of the coming of the day of the Lord. When you read the thirteenth and final chapter of the second epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Corinthian saints you will find and discover how it opens up with the apostle emphatically declaring unto these saints and this congregation that he was making a third trip unto them in their midst. Consider how the first verse of this chapter actually begins: “This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” (2 Corinthians 13:1). It is absolutely imperative and important that we recognize and understand the apostle’s commitment and dedication to this church and congregation, for if you turn and direct your attention to the previous epistle which he had written unto this congregation you will find the apostle’s desire to come unto them. For the apostle Paul, it wasn’t enough simply to write individual letters to this church and congregation, for the apostle Paul would make it his sole desire and ambition to come unto the saints of this congregation—to come unto this people whom he spent eighteen months labouring alongside Timothy and Silas.
If you turn and direct your attention unto the sixteenth chapter of the apostle’s first epistle which was written unto this congregation you will find his desire to come unto them with great desire, fervency and passion. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the sixteenth and final chapter of the first epistle which was written unto the Corinthian congregation—“Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem. And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me. Now I will come unto you, when I shall pass through Macedonia: for I do pass through Macedonia. And it may be that I will abide, yea, and winter with you, that ye may bring me on my journey whithersoever I go. For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit” (1 Corinthians 16:1-7). The language surrounding a secondary visit of the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian congregation is actually found as early as the fourth chapter of the first epistle which he wrote unto them. If you begin reading with and from the fifteenth verse of the fourth chapter you will not only find the apostle’s desire to send TImotheus unto this congregation, but also to come unto this congregation himself. Consider if you will the words and language which is found in the fourth chapter of the apostle’s first epistle which was written unto the saints which were at Corinth—not only concerning his desire to send Timothy unto them, but also his desire to come unto them himself: “For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, ye have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me. For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring thou into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in church. Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you. But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speed of them which are puffed up, but the power. For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. What will ye? Shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness” (1 Corinthians 4:15-21).
As you continue reading the words and language which are found in the letters which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Corinth, you will notice that while he engaged himself in writing a detailed letter unto them to address the various issues which were present within the church, he didn’t merely desire to present them with words. If you read both the first and second epistles which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Corinth you will notice and very quickly discover that he sought to do more than simply present them with words contained with a letter, but he also sought to accompany the words within his letters with presence. Please mark this reality and concept and mark it well, for there are a number of ministers who seek to hide behind words, yet they never allow themselves to engage in presence. PROMOTING WORDS WHILE DENYING PRESENCE! In order to illustrate and present this in an even greater light it’s worth noting an example from the type of job I have. I work as a client a service representative for First Republic bank in downtown Boston, which essentially means I spend eight hours in a day with a headset glued to my ear ready to take calls from clients who need assistance. On average I spend anywhere from three to five hours a day on the phone talking to clients whom I will never see face to face, and will never meet. The nature and reason(s) for the clients’ calls vary in scope and severity, and on occasion there are those clients who call in completely irate because they aren’t able to log into their online banking. Occasionally there are clients who call in irate because a mobile check deposit was rejected for image quality, or because they deposited a check into their account only to find the funds removed a week later due to insufficient funds. There are those times and instances when clients call in and they are hot from the moment I pick up and answer the call, and the minute I finish my greeting, they are quick with their words to lash out against me as though I were somehow the cause of their dilemma. There have been a number of times when I have been cursed at, yelled at, and screamed at over the phone by clients who want what they want, when they want it, and how they want it.
Now, you might be wondering what this little example of my job has to do with this writing, yet I am convinced there is much that can be learned from this example. One thing you don’t ever know or understand is what takes place once the call has ended. What I mean by that is what we as customer services representatives say after the call is ended to those colleagues who work alongside us in our row or section. There have been numerous times when a call will end with an irate client, and whoever took that call complains at the tone and language the client displayed over the phone. I have been on both ends of this conversation—both ending the call with such a client and relaying the nature of the call to my colleagues, or hearing what a colleague has to say after experiencing their own call. One of the things that I have always said and believed is that clients are more free to treat you the way they want over the phone because they aren’t face to face, and chances are they will never meet you. I have worked behind the desk in individual branches for three different banks and have to admit that I rarely experienced the level of freedom to express one’s frustration through cursing, yelling and screaming in person as I have speaking with individuals over the phone. I have always believed that it’s oftentimes easier to hide behind a phone, or to even hide behind an e-mail because there is no face to face interaction, and there is the strong potential for never meeting the recipient of your wrath and indignation. I firmly believe that it is oftentimes easier to hide behind phone calls, e-mails, tweets, text messages, Facebook posts, Instagram posts, and the like; rather than actually speaking to and addressing an issue face to face. I have often believed that it is much easier to hide behind a computer monitor, or a cell phone screen, or the other end of the phone because such outlets eliminate the face to face element. If I am being honest—in our technology saturated generation today—more often than not we hide behind text messages rather than actually picking up the phone and engaging the individual we desire to speak with. I am convinced that more often than not we hide behind Facebook messenger, or Instagram posts or messaging, or even Twitter tweets rather than actually expressing ourself face to face. In this technology saturated and cell phone and tablet inundated generation we have found it much easier to engage others on a 5” phone screen rather than speaking over the phone, or even speaking face to face.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH PRESENCE? WHAT’S WRONG WITH FACE TO FACE? As I am sitting here right now I am firmly convinced that there are a number of us who are deathly afraid of face to face interactions, and are deathly afraid of physical interaction. There are a number of us who are deathly afraid to engage ourselves face to face with those around us, and for whatever the reason(s) may be, we choose to either isolate ourselves, or hide behind text messages, e-mails, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and the like. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which we find and read in the second chapter of the New Testament book of the Acts concerning the atmosphere and environment of the early church after the Day of Pentecost. If you begin reading with and from the forty-second verse of the second chapter of the Book of Acts you will find the following text which directly speaks to face to face interaction and engaging one another in person. Consider if you will the words Luke wrote in this second treatise unto Theophilus: “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:42-47). This reality is further expressed in the fourth chapter of the very same epistle, for if you begin reading with the thirty-second verse of the fourth chapter you will find the following words: “And the multitude of them that believe were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and destruction was made unto every man according as he had need. And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 4:32-37).
I choose to include and mention these words which Luke the beloved physician wrote in the New Testament book of Acts, for with and through these words Luke emphasizes the tremendous power, significance and importance of interacting with each other face to face. It has been said that we live in a generation where we have never been more connected, and yet the truth of the matter is that I would argue the exact opposite. Although we live in a generation where we can connect to the world on an unprecedented level, I am convinced that we have been more disconnected from those which are around us. I am convinced that while we might have access to the internet, and while we might have access to cell phones, and tablets, and computers, we have never been more disconnected from those which are around us. Despite the fact that we can speak to others via text—which if we are being honest with ourselves and with others, is our preferred method of communicating—we have never been more disconnected from those which are around us. I would even dare say that this is true of our relationships with friends, family members, loved ones, and those whom we interact. It is easier to send a text message, or perhaps a string of text messages than it is to actually pick up the phone and call another individual. I would dare say that despite the fact the apostles and the early church did not have the technology we have in our generation, they were more connected to those around them than we are and have ever been. There is not a doubt in my mind that the apostles and early church were more connected and were more in tune with those around them than we are—despite our having access to the latest technology. Pause for a moment and consider how easy it is to simply pick up your phone and send a quick text rather than picking up the phone and calling someone. Pause for a moment and consider how much easier it is to pick up the phone and call someone rather than actually driving over to see someone face to face. In the days of which Luke wrote, recorded and documented—if you wanted to speak with someone and engage in conversation with them you would put on your tunic, lace your sandals, walk out the front door of your home and make your way over to the house of that one you sought to communicate and fellowship with. In our generation today we don’t have to operate the same way, for if we want to engage ourselves in fellowship with those around us, we can simply send a text, or an e-mail, or make a phone call. Granted, I completely understand the difficulties surrounding the other individual living in a completely different state, or perhaps even in another country; however, I firmly believe we have never been more disconnected as the human race than before.
I am sitting here today and I can’t help but be directly challenged within my own heart and life to allow myself to be connected with those around us more than I have ever been before. I will fully and completely admit that I am one of those individuals who practically has their cell phone glued to their hand, and yet despite the fact that I have my cell phone glued to my hand, I am more disconnected than I ever have been. Can I be honest for a moment and declare that there is absolutely nothing that beats face to face interaction with someone else in person. If I’m being honest with myself and with the Lord, there are times and there have been times when face to face interaction scares, and perhaps even intimidates me—this despite the fact that I would consider myself a people person in that I’m able to talk to anyone. CONNECTION WITHOUT INVESTMENT! Did you know that it is possible to connect with someone in person, or perhaps even connect with someone in the house of the Lord, and yet have absolutely nothing invested in that connection or relationship? I am convinced that there are a number of us within the house of God who may enjoy connection within our lives, so long as it doesn’t require any investment on our part. We don’t mind being cordial, and civil with those around us, and we treat everyone as acquaintances, yet very few will we actually treat as companions. I have often said that we should be acquaintances with everyone, yet we should pick and choose our friends carefully. I have often said and believed that Jesus had twelve disciples, yet of those twelve disciples, He had three disciples which were part of His inner circle. Even beyond this inner circle there as only one disciples who was considered the beloved, and that was the disciple and apostle Paul. With that being said, however, I am convinced that there are a number of us who are quite content with keeping those around us in the acquaintance realm simply because by keeping them limited and relegated to that realm and sphere, there is no commitment or investment that is required of us. It’s similar to keeping that guy or that girl in the friend zone and never allowing oneself to move beyond the friend zone and invest in something more. Oh, how many of us have specific zones within our lives, or certain boxes, or certain categories, and we relegate those around us into those different spheres, thus never allowing them to move beyond those places we have assigned them? Similar to assigned seating at a wedding reception, or assigned seating at any other venue, we assign seating within our lives of those which are around us, and we fully expect them to remain in those seats.
Transitioning back to this reality and concept of hiding behind letters, or text messages, or e-mails, I find it absolutely incredible the apostle Paul didn’t simply write letters unto the Corinthian church and congregation. It is true that he wrote a first epistle unto this particular congregation, but even within the letter itself the apostle Paul expressed a vehement and fervent desire to come unto this body of believers. It is in the fourth chapter of the first epistle the apostle Paul writes and declares unto the Corinthian saints his desire to come unto them—and to not come to them in word only, but also in deed. The apostle Paul desired to come unto this particular church and congregation within the city of Corinth—not with words alone, but also with the power of God, “for the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.” Even when speaking of his first encounter with the Corinthians, the apostle Paul describes his first coming unto them—a fact we find in the second chapter of this first epistle. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul writes in the second chapter of the first epistle beginning to read with the first verse: “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (2 Corinthians 2:1-5). When the apostle Paul first came unto the city of Corinth, he did not come with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. When the apostle Paul sought to come unto them a second time, the apostle Paul again sought to come unto them—not with mere words only, but also with the demonstration of the power of the kingdom of God. One of the questions we must ask ourselves is when we do come into the presence of others, and when we do come unto those around us, do we come with mere words alone, or do we come with the demonstration of the Spirit and power? When we come together with others do we come with words only, or do we come with the demonstration of the power of the kingdom of God?
When you come to the eleventh chapter of the first epistle of the apostle Paul to the Corinthians you will find that when speaking unto them concerning the Lord’s table and the Lord’s supper, he once more expressed his desire to come unto them and set the rest in order. In the sixteenth and final chapter of this first epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Corinthian congregation you will find the apostle Paul again writing of his desire to come unto the saints which were at Corinth, and to even tarry with them during the winter. How incredibly powerful this is—especially when you consider the fact that the apostle Paul initially spent eighteen months labouring alongside Timothy and Silas among the Corinthians. This wasn’t simply a drive by interaction with the Corinthians when the apostle Paul came unto them, for he chose to remain among them for a full eighteen months after the Lord appeared unto him and declared that He had many people within that city. During his first epistle which was written unto the Corinthian congregation the apostle Paul earnestly and eagerly desired that he might come unto them once more and set in place those things which he wrote in his first epistle. The apostle’s desire when writing this first epistle wasn’t merely to send a letter unto the Corinthian congregation, but to actually accompany that letter with his presence, as he sought to once more come unto them. As you approach the first chapter of the second epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto this congregation you will find him again writing of his desire to come once more unto them, and how he did in fact come unto them again a second time. What’s incredibly interesting about the words of the apostle Paul in this first chapter of the second epistle is the phrase and expression “that ye might have a second benefit.” Please don’t miss or lose sight of the significance and importance of these words, for when the apostle Paul sought to come unto them a second time, he didn’t seek to come unto them for the sake of coming unto them, but coming unto them in order that there might be a second benefit. This brings me to an incredibly important question concerning our coming together with those around us, and what benefit there is when we come together. In order to illustrate this point even further it’s necessary that we turn and direct our attention to the eleventh chapter of the first epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Corinthian congregation. Beginning with the seventeenth verse of the eleventh chapter we the following words:
“Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you. Not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For the must be also heresites among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper. For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken? What? Have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? Or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.” (1 Corinthians 11:17-22).
These words are incredibly challenging and incredibly sobering, for the apostle Paul indicted this congregation that when they came together with one another, they came together for the worse and not for the better. This is actually a perfect Segway into what the apostle Paul writes in the twelfth and thirteenth chapters of the second epistle which he wrote unto this particular congregation. Beginning with the fourteenth verse of the twelfth chapter of the second epistle we find the following words: “Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved. But be it so, I did not burden you: nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile. Did I make a gain of you by any of them whom I sent unto you? I desired Titus, and with him I sent a brother. Did Titus make a gain of you? Walked we not in the same spirit? Walked we not in the same steps? Again, think ye that we excuse ourselves unto you? We speak before God in Christ: but we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying. For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wrath’s, strife’s, backbiting, whispering, swellings, tumult’s: and lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and luscious ness which they have committed” (2 Corinthians 12:14-21). With and through this language the apostle Paul writes concerning another visit unto the Corinthian congregation, and how he feared that when he came unto them, he would find them not as he would desire, for he would find debates, envyings, wrath’s, strife’s, backbiting, whispering, swellings, tumult’s, and the like. What’s more, is that the apostle Paul goes on to write that should he come unto them again, he would bewail many which had sinned already, and those who had not yet repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciousvness which they committed.
The more I read the twelfth and thirteenth chapters of this second epistle unto the Corinthian congregation the more I am consumed with the tremendous investment the apostle Paul made into this congregation and into these saints—not only within the first eighteen months he spent with them, but also beyond that initial time and tenure. The apostle Paul’s investment into this church and congregation went beyond just those initial eighteen months, for not only did he write two distinct epistles unto them, but he also came unto them—not once, not twice, but three times. THREE VISITS AND TWO LETTERS! I began this writing around the concept of three visits and two letters, and the reality of this statement suggests the investment the apostle Paul was willing to make in this congregation. Despite all its flaws, despite all its struggles, despite all its weaknesses, despite all its sins, despite all those things the apostle sought to correct and rebuke, the apostle could never reject or despise this congregation. I absolutely love the tremendous grace and mercy the apostle Paul displayed toward this congregation, for he wasn’t willing to leave them to themselves, but help them to grow up and become a mature body in Christ. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the first chapter of the epistle he wrote unto the Philippian congregation. Beginning with the third verse of the first chapter we find the following words: “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:3-8). These words have often been words which I have absolutely loved and appreciated, for with these words we uncover a powerful truth about our God—namely, that He can and will complete the work which He began in us until the coming of His son Jesus Christ. In other words, Jesus Christ is absolutely and completely invested in us, and in our growth and maturity as saints and followers of Him in this dark and dangerous age.
I feel the great need to conclude this writing by speaking of the tremendous power of an unwillingness to give up on those who struggle. There is a growing tendency within our hearts and lives to give up on those who fail us, or those who betray us, or those who sin against us. There is a growing tendency to give up on those whom we feel don’t deserve a second chance—perhaps even a third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh or eighth chance. How many times have you written off someone within your life simply because they did not live up to your expectations? How many times have you forcefully extracted and removed someone from your life because they failed you in one way or another? It is second nature for us to forcefully expel and violently extract those individuals who have hurt, wounded and scarred us within our lives. There is absolutely no difficult with removing someone from our lives when they continue in the same patterns and habits we have spoken to them before. How many times are we supposed to forgive such individuals? How long should we allow such behaviors to continue? How long should we stick around and remain in the life of an individual who we perceive continually and repeatedly fails—not only fails us, but also fails the living God? If we are being honest with ourselves we must admit that it is perfectly acceptable and the norm to cancel our investment in those around us, and almost like a stock which has experienced a drop in value and prices, we sell our our shares and abandon ship. How many times have we sold all the stocks we have purchased and invested in the lives of those around us in order to somehow salvage and preserve our investment? How many times have we treated trust and forgiveness as currency and stocks which we can buy and sell at random and at will? I know for myself there have been times when I have written others around me off because they have not lived up to my expectations, or because they have somehow failed me. It is possible that others around us can wound and hurt us, and to do so severely, yet does that give us the right to violently remove, extract and expel them from our lives? Jesus knew Judas was going to betray Him, and yet He allowed Him to walk with Him for three and a half years, allowed him to partake in the Passover supper, and even washed his feet in the upper room. There is something to be said about those among us who are unwilling to cancel their investment in those around them—even when they perceive they aren’t receiving any return on their investment. I am going to conclude this writing with two specific references—one which is found in the sixth chapter of the epistle of Paul to the Galatians, and the second is in the eighteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew:
“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But lever every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden. Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:1-10).
“Moreover, if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be stablished. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Then came Peter to Him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? Jesus with unto him, I say unto unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven” (Matthew 18: 15-22).
I would also leave you with one final passage found in the twenty-fourth chapter of the Old Testament passage, and that which helps form the title of this writing: “For a just man falleth seven times, and rise the up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief. Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth” (Proverbs 24 :116-17). THANK YOU FOR LETTING ME RISE AGAIN! As I am sitting here right now I am wonderfully and powerfully convinced that we need to be men and women who are not only willing to allow those around us to fall, but we are also to be men and women who are willing to allow those same men and women to rise again. The author of this proverb declared that a just man falls seven times, and yet each time he falls down, he rises up again. It’s interesting the proverb uses the number seven, for when asking about forgiving his brother, Peter asked if he should forgive his brother seven times. Jesus quickly rebutted Peter’s question by declaring unto him that he wasn’t to forgive his brother seven times, but seven times seventy. There are very few of us who are willing to allow our brother to fall once, let alone allow them to rise. Perhaps one of the single greatest questions we must ask ourselves is whether or not we are willing to allow those around us to fall. Even more than this, are we willing to allow those around us to rise form their fall? Taking this a step further, are we willing to allow those around us to fall a second time, or a third time, or even a fourth time, and allow them to rise again? Do we have enough grace and mercy within our hearts to allow those around us to fall and to rise again? How we answer this question can and will dramatically alter the entire trajectory and course of our lives. Am I one who not only allows another to fall before, beside or around me, but also to allow that individual to rise? What’s more, is do I possess the grit, do I possess the grace, to I possess the tender love and affection to help that individual rise—even if their fall directly impacted me? OH that we would be a people who give room for others to fall, and who are not only willing to watch them rise again, but who are also willing to help them rise each time.