How Many Times?
FRIDAY, AUGUST 15, 2008
Forgiveness. It is a subject that is that is all too often misunderstood or even just plain forgotten.
The fact of the matter is this: When someone does something hurtful to me, the last thing that I want to do is to forgive them… But then again, I think alot of that has to do with your definition of forgiveness….
Webster’s dictionary defines the word forgive as: “To stop feeling angry or hurt by”. If everyone were to live by this definition of forgiveness, I can see why it would be so hard to forgive. Let me clarify what I mean when I say this. I believe that once someone hurts you the memory of that hurt will always be there. So whenever a person recalls something done to them the feelings of hurt are bound to tag along.
On the other hand, there is the definition of forgiveness from Jesus’ perspective. I remember learning a song when I was a kid. It’s called “I’ve Been Redeemed”. There are a couple of lines that keep coming to mind from this song. “I’ve been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, safe and sanctified I am, all my sins are taken away, I’ve been redeemed.” The one particular part of the verse is what makes me realize how Jesus views forgiveness. “All my sins are taken away”. To me that means that as far as God is concerned they don’t exist anymore. Now I know that we are humans. We can’t be perfect like God is. I know at least for myself that I can’t just pretend like hurtful things never happened to me. Because I am constantly reminded of them. They flash like scenes from a movie over and over again in my mind. However, God has given me a goal. In any given situation, I am asked to act in a manner that is as close as possible to how Jesus would act. And that means when I’m hurt by someone that I need to do my best to not hold a grudge. To love the person and accept them for who they are- no matter how they treat me!
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, that’s not possible. That’s crazy talk! Why would you do that for someone who keeps hurting you? My answer to that is because that’s what God keeps doing for me!! Matthew 18:21&22 say, “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’. Jesus answered, 'I tell you, not seven times, but seventy seven times.” A footnote to that verse clarifies that this term “seventy seven times” actually means “seventy times seven”. Which, if you calculate that out, is 490 times. WOW!!! That is a whole lot of forgiving! I don’t really believe that God wants us to count out each time that we forgive someone, and then when we get to # 490 then we are finished. No, I believe that we are called to forgive like He does. And His forgiveness knows no bounds.
Don’t get me wrong! This whole forgiveness thing is something that I will wrestle with for all of the days of my life. Because I am still a human being, and I don’t like to be hurt. And it is not easy for me to see things the way God does. But I can choose to. That is up to me. Forgiveness is a choice. Not an easy one. But possible!!!
Father God, thank you for not counting my sins against me. Thank you that you don’t keep a record of my wrongs against you because the weight of them would flatten me into oblivion. Help me please, even when I do not feel like forgiving, to make the choice to forgive anyway. Even if it is seventy times seven….. times seven….. times seven…. times seven…. AMEN!!