Jesus told us we should forgive as we have been forgiven. Yet Peter asked him how many times was he required to forgive someone who wronged him. Seven?
I mean, seven sound generous if that person continues to do things that hurt you. Jesus answered: No. Not seven. Seventy times seven. (Matt 18)
In other words, there should be no limit. Forgive as God forgives. I, for one, am thankful God didn’t reach his limit after the first seven times I did something that required his forgiveness.
Having an unforgiving heart, holding a grudge, wanting revenge, are feelings that destroy. I used to tell my students I’m too lazy to carry a grudge because it takes too much effort. And the longer you carry it, the heavier it gets.
To carry a grudge you have to feed it. You’ve got to think about that person who wronged you. You’ve got to keep replaying the memory of what they did. You find yourself talking about them. Or you purposefully ignore them. You plan your actions against them or spend time dreaming about a building falling on them.
The thing about unforgiveness is, it needs fed to stay alive. But the more you feed it, the bigger and angrier it becomes, and the harder it is to carry. Jesus knew that, and wants better for all of us.
Now don’t misunderstand. Forgiveness isn’t the same as permission. If you are in an abusive or unhealthy relationship, you need to take action. Get to safety. Report the abuse. Find other friends. Apply for another job. Don’t just stand there and allow the abuse to continue.
Then after you have walked away, forgive. But, you say, he assaulted my child, she stole my husband, he abuses me verbally, she talks about me behind my back. He doesn’t deserve my forgiveness.
You tell me I don’t understand, that it’s easy for me to say because I haven’t experienced what you’ve experienced. But, my friend. I’m not the one telling you to forgive. Jesus is.
Forgiveness isn’t the same as permission. And it’s not the same as allowing the evil to continue. What it is is a turning over to God that which hurts you. It’s trusting him to work things out for your good and his glory.
If you don’t forgive, you allow that person who hurt you to continue to hurt you. You do that. You give them control over you.
But, you say, she’s never asked me to forgive her.
Forgiveness isn’t only about the person who wronged you. It’s about you. It’s about your happiness, your health, your well-being. I personally think many emotional problems people face today have an element of unforgivness in them.
God wants us to walk with him in joy. He wants a clear path between us and him. Don’t let the actions of anyone keep you from that sweet fellowship.
God forgave you. Pass it on.