Friday, July 26, 2019

On Forgiving Others (When you don’t want to)

Then Peter came to him and asked, ‘Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?’ ‘No, not seven times,’ Jesus replied, ‘but seventy times seven!’” Matthew 18:21-22 (NLT)

Forgiving is love’s toughest work and love’s biggest risk.  It can be especially tricky when we are not ready to forgive, or someone has hurt us so badly we cannot do it.  Not forgiving someone who has wronged us or hurt us can lead to a life of agony and bitterness, not for them, but for us.  Dealing with the hurt and anger you may feel deep inside is necessary in order for true forgiveness to happen.  
When others hurt us in some way, either intentionally or accidentally, we can become bitter which makes it ever harder to forgive.  When you have someone close to you, like a family member, that continually hurts you over and over, it seems impossible.  Peter asked Jesus, How many times do I have to forgive someone?  It is really hard to forgive those who have betrayed us more than once, but that is what Jesus said to do.  Jesus’ response to Peter was 70x7.  That is 490 times to be exact – that’s a lot of forgiveness!  There were two things Jesus wanted Peter to think about in response to his question:
·     How many times would you want grace?  How many times would you want forgiveness?  I know I don’t ever want to find myself out of the grace of God.  Thankfully, His grace never runs out.  His grace and forgiveness are never ending and no matter how many times we fail Him, He always welcomes us back with open arms. He expects us to have that same forgiveness with others, even the hardest people in our lives.  You may be the only picture of grace and forgiveness they have ever seen.  
·     Unforgiveness turns to bitterness and resentfulness, and bitterness and resentfulness steal the joy and peace from our lives. Although someone may have hurt us, it is our own bitterness that causes the ongoing pain.  Forgiveness brings healing.  Chances are you are the only one suffering, or at least you are suffering way more.  Unforgiveness bears a weight that crushes and imprisons us.  
Not forgiving someone and harboring bitterness is not worth the negative impact it has on us.  We are not hurting the other person near as much as we are hurting ourselves, if at all. Forgiveness frees the other person, but it also frees us from being held prisoner of bitterness, hardness, and even hate.  It frees us to feel grace on this side.  It frees us to have the joy in life that Christ intended us to have.  It frees us to allow Christ to be Christ.  He is Lord.  He is over all – including all wrongs that have been done to us.  Let them go and give them to Him where they belong and release yourself by forgiving them.  Find freedom and joy again.  

Therefore, judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart.
At that time each will receive their praise from God. 
1 Corinthians 4:5

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