“Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” Mt. 18:21-22
This time I won’t forgive you. I’ve forgiven you over and over. And over. This never stops. You keep doing the same thing. Then you come to me and say I’m sorry. Or you don’t say I’m sorry at all. But the bottom line is I can’t take this anymore. I’ve forgiven you one too many times. How many times do you seriously think I’m going to forgive you? I’m done with this forgiveness business.
Can you relate? Ever been so sick and tired of someone else’s actions toward you, maybe even someone super close to you, perhaps someone whom you believe with all your heart owes it to you to treat you with the utmost love, care, and kindness, that you’ve absolutely convinced yourself there is no way in the whole wide world you can find it within yourself to forgive the person again? I have! Over – and over again!
Here’s the deal, however. Forgiveness isn’t about what we feel like doing. It’s neither about what we feel the other person does or doesn’t deserve. Forgiveness isn’t ultimately about us. Nor about the other person. Forgiveness ultimately is about the Lord God almighty and obedience to Him. And the Lord Jesus Christ makes it abundantly clear in His conversation with Peter in the verses above that we are commanded to forgive over, and over, and over again. Even in a single day!
Here’s the key. We don’t need to “find it in ourselves” to forgive someone else. That would be pretty impossible, wouldn’t it, considering how our human flesh wants to do anything and everything but forgive at least in certain instances.
When we make the decision to forgive someone for God’s sake, in love for and obedience to Him, and in love for others as He commands us to love others, then we find forgiveness in Christ, in the Spirit of God who indwells Christ followers, in the power and strength of almighty God. In other words, He equips us with His love and mercy, compassion, and kindness, patience and grace, His very essence in us, His character in us, to fulfill His command to love and to forgive. Even again and again.
I am convinced someone reading this needs to hear this message. I know I do. Not just once. But over and over. For if the truth be told, we all face trials in our lives, including hurts and grievances, wounds and mistreatment, etc. caused by others’ sins. We all need this message. Not to just hear it, but to do it in Christ’s name.