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
Are you like me in that when someone hurts your feelings, your thoughts stop in their tracks, your tongue gets tied, and your heart twists until it hurts? It’s one of the few times that I find myself speechless.
How do you respond when someone tells lies about you, ignores your pleas for help, or leaves you out on purpose? Most likely, you feel hurt. We all walk through this life being hurt… far too many times to count, it turns out.
In these painful moments, when forgiveness is needed the most, I find that it is the hardest to give.
But think for a second how many times God has forgiven you for all the mistakes you’ve made, both big and small. Too many times to count, right?
In Matthew 18, Jesus told Peter about a King who wanted to settle his financial accounts. The King summoned a man who owed him a debt worth millions in today’s dollars, and told him to repay it immediately or he and his family would be sold into slavery. The man fell to his knees and begged for the King’s mercy. The King took pity on the man, cancelled all his debt, and set him free. Right after this, the forgiven man found another person who owed him just a few dollars. He demanded repayment. When he was asked to show mercy and forgive this small debt, he refused and had his debtor thrown into jail. When the King heard what had happened he said, “I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?”
As the first man owed a debt too large to ever pay back, our sins may seem too numerous to forgive. We’ve messed up millions of times. Yet our Heavenly Father still forgives us. As we’ve been forgiven, so should we too forgive. But that’s a lot easier said than done. What if the next time you’re wronged you…?
Remember all the times God had forgiven you.
Remain calm and look at things from the other person’s point of view.
Request God’s help to forgive and set you both free.
Forgiveness may be hard, but the drawbacks of not forgiving are far worse. Un-forgiveness makes us slaves to bitterness, revenge, and anger. We become prisoners to the very emotions God, our King of Kings, wants to free us from. Who do you need to forgive today, for the seventy-seventh time?
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