21 Then Peter came up and said to him, "Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?"
22 Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. - Matthew 18:21-22
God call us to forgive as He forgives us - unconditionally and unilaterally. There are no exceptions to God’s forgiveness of us, there can be no exceptions for our forgiveness. No matter what pain has occurred in our lives, we are called to forgive - that can be hard to swallow sometimes. But it’s clear in this parable, Jesus responds to Peter with “seven times seventy,” meaning our forgiveness is to be limitless.
One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned being married for 25 years is that no enduring relationships exist without an abundance of grace and forgiveness. Doing life with another person means you’re bound to bump up against their expectations of you, and they’re going to bump up against yours. They’re going to see you at your worst, and you’re going to see them at their worst. If you want to make it to the rockers on the porch in 80 years, holding hands and looking back over your lives together, then you’re going to need a limitless amount of forgiveness. The beautiful part of learning to forgive over and over is it doesn’t mean you’re accepting a life of compromise, it means you’re being made into a more beautiful and loving person. He has tenderized my heart through my marriage, made me a more accepting person and lowered my expectations, allowing me to experience more joy and more peace as I’ve learned to forgive unconditionally. So much more rolls off my back that once caused me to rise up in a flurry - and that impacts all of my relationships.
Forgiveness is about needing other people less, and needing Him more. When we’re harboring an unforgiveness in our hearts, we’re waiting for another person to make it right. We want them to own their sin against us and seek our forgiveness. While it’s true they may owe us one, waiting and seeking after that change of heart is placing our satisfaction in another person. We won’t find true happiness if we’re looking for it to come from another person. The sad reality is we may never get it from the other person, but our joy and our peace are not contingent on another person’s apology - that gives people the power and responsibility that only God should have. Need people less, and love God more - that’s the way to true peace and joy.
I read something the other day that ties to what I’ve been meditating on - “Never wish them pain. That’s not who you are. If they caused you pain, they must have pain inside. Wish them healing.” We are called to pray for our enemies - that includes the people who offended us. If they hurt, they’re are hurting. They need to know the love of Christ just as we do - that’s the only way to change the wickedness that lives in their heart and caused your hurt. Instead of only praying for the strength to forgive, pray for healing for that person, consistently, and watch God change your heart.
When we clean out our hearts of the unforgivenesses, we begin to experience more joy and more peace in life. The negative feelings of bitterness and anger that hang over our heads disappear, and they are replaced with love, compassion, mercy, and concern. We begin to see God’s perspective, not only on the situation but of people in general. Our hearts begin to accept the person over the sin, and we gain insights as to why they sinned against us. This impacts our relationships with other people because we become a more tender, grace-filled person who is accepting of other people’s shortcoming and failures. Forgiveness changes us. Unforgiving people are harsh and bitter, but forgiving people are gentle and understanding. The best part of forgiveness is that it impacts our walk with Christ - our relationship with Him flourishes under the obedience, and we experience His peace and His joy in our lives.
Looking forward to welcoming the King this Christmas with my whole heart, as He has worked to root out those places I still harbor hurt. He has freed me from the darkness of unspeakable offenses from my past, and has walked me into the His marvelous light. I am so thankful for His gift.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗
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