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 an essential element of loving well. Jesus does not look at us and determine at some point that we have reached our quota of sin, and He suddenly will no longer forgive; therefore, we are called to do the same for those around us. That being said, we must use wisdom as we navigate. If someone is intentionally causing harm, we are capable of forgiving without remaining in a position to continue to be in harm’s way. Forgiveness is far more easily carried out with some, than with others. To forgive is to let go of our anger, cease resentment, and give up all claim on rights to retaliate or recover what has been lost. It is to extend pardon and release the burden, whether the offender has asked to be forgiven or not. “…Love is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:5) If we want to truly live and love as God has called us, we must forgive in the same way that He forgives each of us. May we be encouraged and empowered by the goodness and grace of God to go forth and forgive others in the same way that we are forgiven.
If we truly love,
By grace, we’ll forgive;
Release each other,
With true pardon, give.
For no one’s perfect,
All in need of grace;
To rise, get better,
And walk in God’s way.
Lead us Lord Jesus,
Grant strength to forgive;
Choose love lavishly,
As His grace we give.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You first loved and forgave us, before we were even repentant. Thank You that it is Your kindness that leads us to repentance. Thank You that You call us to extend the same forgiveness to those around us that You so lavishly extend to us. Forgive us for the times that we struggle to forgive, or have to do so over and over again. Show us how to place all in Your hands. Teach us how to navigate offenses according to Your perfect love. Lead us to love and forgive those around us in the same way that You do for us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your strength to forgive others, whether they ask or not, and move forward in love, just as You love us. Amen.
© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. – Matthew 6:14