This is an older post but I’ve been busy and forgiveness is something that I have been thinking about a lot lately so…
As Christians we are asked to do, or not do, a number of things. Some of these things like not committing murder, not stealing, and not committing adultery are easy. Others, like not lying, always being a good example, always acting like you have hope in the future, and constantly battling sins of the flesh are harder.
And when it comes to offering forgiveness, well that can seem almost impossible even to the most committed Christians.
I have been a Christian a long time and one of the Bible stories that never ceases to blow my mind a little every time I hear it is the one where Peter asks Jesus how many times he should forgive someone who has sinned against him.
In typical fashion, Jesus rocks Peter’s world by giving the seemingly absurd answer of “seventy times seven” and then follows with a parable about forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-35).
When I hear or read this I always think, “Holy cow, 490 times? That’s a lot of forgiving!” But then, that’s the point, isn’t it? We are to never stop forgiving.
Jesus makes this point very clear when He says that, unless we forgive others, our Father in heaven will not forgive us. (Matthew 6:14-15, Mark 11:25)
Think about that for a second.
Forgiveness, as it seems to Jesus, is a very serious matter that cannot be taken lightly or disregarded because it’s counterintuitive or against our nature, not in the least.
So, how do we go about forgiving as Jesus wants us to? Should we draw a line in the sand and tell all those who have wronged us that, from today forward, the past is in the past, all is forgiven, and you will not hold what they did to you against them anymore, ever?
And this forgiveness should be immediate and not dependent on whether the offending person asked for it or, in your mind anyway, even deserves it.
490 may seem like a high number when it comes to forgiveness but it pales in comparison to the number of times God will forgive the average Christian who commits a lifetime of sin.
Now this doesn’t mean you required to trust people that offend you immediately or let them continue to hurt you. It takes time and effort to rebuild trust and repair broken relationships and, relationships with people who continue to offend or cause you pain can, and sometimes should, be severed.
What this does mean however, is that forgiven offense can no longer be wielded as weapons or pulled out to be used as an ace in the hole whenever you want to use them to inflict pain, win an argument, shut someone up, or make you feel better about yourself by tearing someone else down.
What do you think our Father in Heaven, who will not forgive us unless we master the art of forgiving others thinks every time you say. “Oh yeah, remember that time when you ______?” Or, “Why do you always ______?”
If a person has offended you or wronged you, you need to forgive them unconditionally and completely and not act out in anger every time you can to make it abundantly clear to them that you are still hurting or to teach them a lesson.
Think about it. Is how you react to an offense just as bad as the offense itself? Have you been given a right to hurt others in order to undo injustices?
If you claim to have offered someone forgiveness yet they still anger you, or you dwell constantly on their past offense(s), or you see nothing but their past offense(s) every time you see them or think about them, or you constantly strive to get back at them, to make them suffer, or make them miserable, then you have not forgiven them at all.