We have all experienced times when a person has been rude or lost their temper over something. Some situations are just misunderstandings and different personalities all trying to get along. But what about those times when we or a loved one has been deeply wounded. A wound that has damaging and lasting effects on our life. In Matthew 19:21 Peter said: “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me?” Seven times? You kind of get this picture of Peter thinking…if he does that again I am going to take that guy out. But then he turns to Jesus and ask about forgiveness to see if his grace of seven times lines up with Jesus’. In vs. 22 Jesus replied to Peter He said: no you should forgive seventy times seven.
Maybe because Jesus knew carrying unforgiveness goes much deeper than how we feel about the person who sinned against us. It becomes a matter of our own heart within.Unforgiveness never affects the person who did the wrong as much as it affects us! It can block, stall, and even destroy our possibility to heal. It can grow resentment that eats away at the core of who we are. I think the point Jesus was making to Peter was… It’s not about numbers or how many times you can convince your heart to forgive. It’s about having a merciful heart forgiveness flows from. It’s the same kind of forgiveness that was extended to us through Christ on the cross. We didn’t deserve it, it wasn’t just. It was a free gift. The Bible is clear that we are to forgive. Luke 6:37 says “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
But let’s face it when we have been deeply hurt forgiveness is a struggle. This is because we are working through our emotions and desire for justice. But in order to forgive we need to understand forgiveness is not an emotion it’s a choice. Forgiveness does not settle all the questions of blame, justice, or fairness… but it does enable us to move on with life and start the healing process.
When we hold on to unforgiveness it is like a tug-a-war. As long as there are people on each end of the rope tugging, we are at war. When we make a choice to forgive we let go of the rope. They may tug on their end but the war is over. It’s finished! But until you release your end you become a prisoner of war. Sometimes we hold on so tightly we remain a prisoner of war long after the war is gone. The other person has moved on, let go, even passed on and we are still holding onto our end of the rope.
Forgiving someone in no way excuses them from the harm they have caused us. But it releases us to heal, and it puts them in the hands of a just and righteous God.
Psalm 37:5-8 says “Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence as clear as the dawn. And the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun. Be still in the presence of the Lord, and patiently wait for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes. Stop your anger turn from your rage! Do not envy others- it only leads to harm.”
God deeply desires for us to forgive, so we can live in freedom. In our willingness to make the choice to forgive, we are merely opening the door for God to help us through the process. He never expected us to work through the emotions and pain alone, only to make the choice that glorifies his sacrifice on the cross and protects our hearts in Him. It’s honestly coming to the place that says Lord I don’t know how to forgive but I choose to forgive with your help, as you forgave me.
Jesus said I am leaving you with a gift- Peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid” John 14:27
“And he said, the things which are impossible with men are possible with God” Luke18:27