Forgive… Or Not

Matthew 18:21Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.”

It is said that offenses will come in this world. It is unavoidable. What we do when we are offended? Wounded? Sinned against?

Do we cry for justice? Do we cry for that which will vindicate us? Do we desire revenge for the hurt we suffer? Often, it is hard to get past the emotion of the event to think clearly, but if we are to be more like Jesus – we must!

There are abuses suffered around the world. Many are covered up while others are discovered years later. The church is not immune to this behavior as we are all given a choice as to how we treat one another. I believe Peter was trying to establish a line in the sand for just how many times we are to tolerate those that hurt us.

Four hundred and ninety to Christ’s admonishment. Yet, even more, is implied here.

So, many of us are given the choice – do we cry for vengeance? Justice? Forgiveness? Mercy? Grace?

As a born-again, Bible-believing child of God; I am to show mercy and give grace. Many can present a case for justice to be administered. But what of our own sin? Would we cry for justice then?

Jesus commanded us:

Matthew 5:44-47But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Going the extra mile doesn’t seem to fully cover what it is God is asking us to do here…

I heard about a pastor who invited a well-known old-time preacher to his church. He had idolized him and was so very excited to host him in his church. As he picked him up from the airport, he couldn’t hold in his excitement.

He rambled on about the many things he had heard and related gossip he had heard about his guest. Realizing his mistake, he profusely apologized and asked the preacher’s forgiveness to which the old preacher said:

“Son, you can’t offend a dead man…”

There are much value and wisdom in those words. When you and I are dead to self, there should be nothing that offends. We are to forgive seven times seventy, love our enemies, bless those that curse us, do good to those that hate us and pray for those that despitefully use us.

The only way for any of us to do such things are in the person of Jesus Christ. When hurt, I must take it to God. When offended, I cannot bear the pressure of the emotion and weight of the burden to show that which I do not feel or desire to do in return.

Yet, I must – We must.

Forgiveness is a journey, not a one and done. We must ask God for the help needed to do that which He asks of us. God will not command that which He enables us to do through His Holy Spirit. We must take the first step.

Today, wherever you may find yourself, bring your laundry list of offenses to God. He alone can help you to navigate through the journey of forgiveness. Then, you can know the peace of God which passes all understanding.

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