“To forgive is to set the prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” ~ Lewis B. Smedes
“Then Peter came to Him (Jesus) and asked, ‘Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?’ ‘No, not seven times.’ Jesus replied, ‘but seventy times seven!’” Matthew 18:21, 22 NLT.
The beginning of the 18th chapter starts out with the disciples asking Jesus, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom?” So Peter has definitely been listening as the Master has been teaching and he realizes that if you are going to be anything or anybody in the Kingdom you are going to have to be able to forgive.
Peter has been around a while. So when He asks the Lord how many times he should forgive his brother, he knew the number seven was God’s number. It represents the divine number of completion or perfection. God finished creating the earth in seven days. “On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.” Genesis 2:2, 3 NLT.
And I do not believe Jesus was making light of Peter’s question when He responded with a mathematical impossibility! Jesus replied with another number containing seven, the number seventy. The number seventy is also the number that symbolizes our life span on this earth, according to Psalm 90:10, “The days of our lives are seventy years…” NIV.
Jesus told Peter that we are to forgive those that sin against us, or hurt us, as long as we live! Not as long as we feel like it. Not until the feeling passes or we get over it. But we are to keep forgiving, even if they keep hurting us over and over again, as long as we are alive on this earth. It really has nothing to do with the other person; but it has everything to do with us.
Once we realize that it is a command, and that it is something we must be doing pretty much the rest of our lives, we had better adjust the matter of the heart. If the heart isn’t right we won’t be able to forgive. “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:31, 32. NLT.
“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
Forgive them even if they are not sorry. You don’t even forgive because they deserve it. We didn’t deserve it either. But you deserve peace. Many times they will not reciprocate. Many times they will not even care. Forgive anyway. It is simply impossible to experience the peace of God if we have not forgiven those who have hurt us.
“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” Colossians 3:13 NLT.
Real forgiveness isn’t filled with expectations that the other person is going to undergo some miraculous change, or send a dozen long-stemmed, red roses and apologize. All you have to do is the forgiving. Love them, release them, and let it go.
After Jesus told Peter he was to forgive seventy times seven, He went on to tell the story of Forgiven Much, But I Can’t Forgive. In my own words, He says the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a King who wanted to collect his accounts from all of those servants who had borrowed money from him. One of the debtors, who owed him millions of dollars, couldn’t pay, so the king ordered that he and all of his family be sold to pay the debt. But the man fell down and begged him to be patient with him and he promised to pay it all. So the king had mercy and released him and forgave him the debt and let him go!
But when that forgiven man left the king, he went to a fellow servant, who owed him just a few thousand dollars, and he grabbed him by the throat and demanded that he pay him what he owed immediately. His friend fell down at his feet and begged for more time to come up with the money but no way would the forgiven man have any leniency on him and he had him arrested and put in prison until he could pay.
Some of the other servants had seen all that had happened and went and told the king because they were so upset. “Then the king called in the man that he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt. That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.” Matthew 18:32-35. NLT.
“ Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant just as I had mercy on you?”
“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:37, 38 NLT.
Don’t let that bitterness take hold in your heart, it will literally grow and take root until it chokes the life out of you!
God is the Judge, let Him take care of who is right and who is wrong.
“Dear friends, never take revenge. For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back,’ says the Lord.” Romans 12:19 NLT.
You cannot allow pride to stand in the way of forgiveness becoming a vitally important part of your Christian walk. Nor can you afford for it to become so common that it is a casual byline much as in the way we use the word love. We also use that same word for many other things. We love chocolate, football, and puppies. We say, “Love ya, man!” And, “I’m so in love with that dress!” We can’t treat forgiveness in the same manner. When we do take the time to forgive we must mean it and take it in all seriousness. We need to be specific and apologize sincerely, asking for forgiveness.
“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14, 15. NLT.
God is always pleased when we honor His Word, and His Word is pretty to the point on this one. If we don’t forgive our brother, He will not forgive us; and THAT is pretty plain.
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