Have you ever sat down and written all the reasons why you shouldn’t have to forgive someone? Your list may look something like this:
- It’s not my fault.
- I am certain that I am right.
- I didn’t start this fight.
- I don’t want to.
- I’m the one who got hurt.
- I don’t feel like it
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?”Matthew 18:21-22 MSG
Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.
Receive and Give
Forgiveness is something all of us want to receive but most of us hesitant to give. Why is that?
We want Jesus to forgive us, yet we hold back on forgiving others.
Jesus makes it clear that we can’t have it without giving it.
In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.Matthew 6:14-15 MSG
That’s straight-forward language which leaves no room for doubt or discussion. I cannot separate receiving forgiveness from extending forgiveness.
Okay! So I will forgive 70 X 7 = 490 times – and that’s it.
Is that really what Jesus is saying?
First of all, take a step back and realize that he is addressing the fact that hurts will happen and offenses will come. Don’t be surprised when it happens in the best of relationships: in marriages, homes, and churches.
Immediately after he tells Peter to not only forgive 7 times, but 70 X 7, he launches into a teaching about a king who forgave a debtor who owed him millions of dollars. That debtor then turns around and refuses to forgive a man who owed him a few thousand dollars.
God has forgiven your sins – like millions of dollars worth of them.
Do you really want to hold back on forgiving someone who only owes you a “few thousand”?
Do you understand that the repercussion of unforgiveness is a separation between you and God? But if you withhold forgiveness from others, your Father withholds forgiveness from you. (Matthew 6:15 TPT)
To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.
Unforgiveness creates a prison cell where you may think your offender is serving time. But the truth is – you are the one held captive.
Take these 2 freedom steps that will lead you out of your prison of unforgiveness:
- Forgive the offense. Make a decision to forgive the wrong regardless of the emotion you have linked to the hurt and pain. Just forgive the fact. Use your voice. Say it out loud to God in prayer.
- Forgive the impact of the wrongdoing. Remember that forgiveness is a process you will journey through where over time you will feel less and less of its impact.
After you have worked through forgiving the fact of the offense, something will trigger emotion, tears, and pain within you. Then you question whether you have really forgiven that person. The enemy also jumps in with a pointed finger accusing you of not being a true Christian because you are still feeling the hurt.
You get through this part of the forgiveness journey by reinforcing the fact that you have forgiven this person and Jesus is helping you heal from its impact.
I heard Lysa TerKeurst give her story of forgiving someone who had betrayed her and caused deep pain. First she wrote on an index card every offense and painful deed that person did to her. She held each card and forgave the fact. “I forgive ____ for ____.”
Throughout her journey of forgiveness whenever she feels the impact of the betrayal and hurt she repeats this powerful declaration:
Whatever my feelings will not yet allow for, the blood of Jesus will surely cover.
In my own life, sometimes it has taken a year or more to realize that I am not responding to the impact of the hurt and pain in the same way as when it first happened.
Each time the emotion returns I reiterate that I have forgiven this person and ask Jesus for his blood to cover the situation and my feelings. I find the intensity of the hurt lessens and I can move forward more quickly each time.
This is not about my determination, but my cooperation with what Jesus has already done.Lysa TerKeurst
Jesus’ blood forgives you – and others.
Now take the grace and forgiveness you have received vertically from Jesus and extend it out horizontally to those who have hurt and offended you.