Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” – (Matthew 18:21-22, NIV)
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, when someone won’t stop doing wrong to me, how many times must I forgive them? Seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, you must forgive them more than seven times. You must continue to forgive them even if they do wrong to you seventy-seven times.” – (Matthew 18:21-22, ERV)
At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?” Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.” – (Matthew 18:21-22, MSG)
Forgiveness is a strange thing, as we have been forgiven much, yet at times, we struggle to forgive the most minor of offenses. Not one of us is perfect, and we all fall short. This is the space that we must remember when we are hurt or offended by another. In the same way that God pours out His abundant forgiveness and grace, we too, ought to do the same. The crazy thing about unforgiveness is that it hurts the holder of the offense, not the offender. Often, the one who has hurt or offended is not even aware that they have done harm. It is our responsibility to either let it go, or speak with the offender in love and let them know that their words or actions have done harm. That being said, we must do so with forgiveness already in place, regardless of the reception of our communication. Most times, awareness brings repentance and mends are made quickly. However, if the offender stands behind their word or deed, we are still called to forgive. We are not meant to subject ourselves to a vicious cycle of harm, but rather we are not to cling to that which we cannot change. God forgives us each time that we ask, yet He lets us know that if we hold unforgiveness, He will respond to our requests in the same way. I don’t know about you, but I am fully aware of my shortcomings and desperately need His forgiveness and grace. If I need forgiveness and grace, so too, do all those whom I encounter. May we ever seek the Lord to show us how to forgive and give grace, even when we would rather hold onto the offense. Freedom to love well is birthed in us as we choose to walk in forgiveness.
O Lord, help us choose,
Forgive and give grace;
As You’ve done for us,
Throughout all our days.
Soften our hearts, Lord,
So love might come first;
Teach us to let go,
To bless not to curse.
May love lead the way,
In all that we do;
Teach us to forgive,
And choose love like You.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not limit the number of times that You forgive us when we fail and fall short. Thank You that You equip and empower us to do likewise to all those around us as we depend on You. Forgive us for holding onto offenses. Please teach us to release all into Your hands so that we may give goodness and grace in place of our anger, hurt or frustration. Show us how to love like You, at all times and in all circumstances. May many come into a lasting relationship with You as they recognize the power held in Your loving kindness for us all. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to help us to forgive as You do. Amen.
© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present
Forgive our sins, just as we have forgiven those who did wrong to us. – Matthew 6:12