There is no limitation on the number of times we should forgive. We don’t forgive because a person deserves it, but because God alone will judge and repay. The fact that a person has been forgiven does not mean that they will not be required to make amends in some way – especially if they have committed a crime, for example.
Jesus taught that they will have to pay the full price for their action, to make amends to those who’ve been wronged. But bringing people to moral and spiritual justice is God’s job, not ours. We should never build our lives around seeing others brought to judgement, especially when we are the ones who’ve been hurt. We may sometimes be God’s instrument in bringing correction to someone else, but that shouldn’t be our obsession.
It says in Matthew 18:22 ‘Jesus answered, “I tell you, [you should forgive] not seven times, but seventy times seven.’ (KJV)
Jesus taught that forgiveness must be an ongoing and persistent choice in my life. His disciples asked him how many times they should forgive an offense: should they forgive seven times, for example? Jesus replied, ‘Not seven, but seventy times seven.’ He wasn’t giving a number to be taken literally. He wasn’t saying that we should forgive someone up to 490 times and no more. After all, imagine you did try to forgive someone 490 times for the same offense – it’s beyond imagining, and that’s what Jesus meant.
Because of that we want to keep our hearts clear before God, and move into a healthy and fulfilling future. Therefore whether we feel like it or not we will choose to forgive, as many times as it takes.
Prayer: ‘Jesus, please help me to forgive others as you forgive me – as many times as it takes. I know that you will hold people accountable for the things they do to me, and I choose to release that into your hands.’
We live in a wonderful yet often painful world. Nothing can totally isolate or insulate us from the disappointments and losses of life. Even good people sometimes experience bad things. In the midst of life’s struggles, we all accept that forgiveness is a good idea. Forgiveness, said one writer, is God’s antidote for bitterness, wrath and anger. But actually acting on that idea is another thing: forgiving is not an easy thing to do. Before we can learn how to be better ‘forgivers’, we need to recognize what forgiveness is not. Forgiveness is not giving approval to what someone else did to you. Nor is it excusing someone else’s mistakes, or trivializing the offense, saying that it doesn’t really matter. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean saying that your feelings are of no importance and it doesn’t mean that you commit yourself to a relationship with that person in the future. Forgiveness is not naive. It does not say ‘I was not hurt, you did not hurt me.’ Forgiveness is very honest. Forgiveness is not easy because it seems to run against every natural human emotion, every natural response. Naturally speaking, we will try to defend ourselves or even to fight back. Forgiveness requires that we move past those basic instincts to something higher.
Ephesians 4:32 ‘Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.’ (NIV)
We forgive not because we don’t feel hurt, or because we don’t have a right to feel offended. We forgive because it is the godly thing to do, and because God forgives us. No matter how great someone’s offense against you, your past offense against God is infinitely greater. And, thank God, he has forgiven you. Letting that awesome power of forgiveness and release run through your heart, like a river through a canyon, is the key to finding lasting peace and closure.
Prayer: ‘Lord, I know that forgiveness is not easy, and it doesn’t feel natural. But I choose to forgive, to allow your releasing power to flow through my heart and mind today. I release others from their debt, because you did that for me. Help me to be a forgiving person.’
Hebrews 11:7 ‘By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.’ (NIV)
“When you live by Faith, you are living on the edge of insecurity”
Faith heroes always challenge the the status quo. In one way or another, they are not ‘normal’ by most people’s standards.
God told Noah to build a boat. ‘Great,’ said Noah, ‘what’s a boat?’ ‘You know,’ came the reply, ‘one of those things you use when it rains a lot.’ Noah was excited, but perplexed. ‘Great,’ he said, ‘what’s rain?’ (Genesis says there had never been rain to the point in time.) When God told Noah to build a boat, it wasn’t a balsa-wood boat-in-a-bottle constructed out in the garden shed. Noah built a supermarket-sized boat in his driveway — and several other people’s driveways. It was huge! Tourists came from miles around to take photographs of ‘the fool and his boat’. Noah found favour with God — and saved his family — because he refused to be ruled by popular opinion. God declared a flood to world that had never seen rain — and only Noah was prepared to believe him. Were their moments when Noah felt doubt? Of course. Were there times when Noah wished someone else had received the call? Sure. Nevertheless, Noah was prepared to live with the insecurity and that was what made him a world changer.
Prayer: ‘Dear Father, thank you for the example of people like Noah who are obeyed your call even in the face of ridicule. I want to pursue your call on my life whatever the cost, so please, I pray, trust me, call me afresh even today.’