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Thursday, September 8, 2011


Today I'm reading Matthew 18:21-22.
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, when my fellow believer sins against me, how many times must I forgive him? Should I forgive him as many as seven times?"
Jesus answered, "I tell you, you must forgive him more than seven times. You must forgive him even if he wrongs you seventy times seven."

A lot of remembering can lead us to unhealthy places. We remember our hurts, our failures, our sins, or the ways other people have hurt us. The problem with this kind of remembering is that we quickly discover that thing we thought we had put behind us all of a sudden resurfaces with all the intensity of when it happened. We re-live the emotions of the past, and then beat up on ourselves for it. We think we are 'bad forgivers' because we sense that we haven't really forgiven anything, otherwise why does it still upset us so much?

Well, there are two things about forgiveness that are important to remember. First, when Peter was trying to get the 'rule' about forgiveness from Jesus he thought he was being generous by suggesting a quota of 7 times to forgive. I mean after 7 times who could be expected to keep on forgiving? But Jesus blows that up by saying 70 x 7. Jesus was not saying 490 was the magic number. He was saying that as often as it happens you have to forgive. I take that to mean that He knows we're not going to be very good at this forgiveness thing. So, as often as they old feelings resurface I have to forgive all over again. It feels just as real as the first time, so I have to forgive as I have done in the past. That's not a black mark against my spiritual maturity - it's just a human reality. As often as I feel it, I need to forgive again. Otherwise the anger and the resentment will build up in my heart, and that's not good.

Second, forgiveness is really a gift you give yourself. If you're still upset about something that happened years ago chances are person who hurt you isn't worrying about it AT ALL! They're not struggling with remorse or guilt. They're not staying awake at night endlessly going over the events in their minds. Replaying conversations. Opening old wounds. Wishing they had said or acted in a different way. Probably, they're not thinking about you AT ALL. So, who is really hurt by your unforgiveness? Not them.

So, forgiveness - forgiving them - is really about finding peace for yourself. When you forgive someone for a past action you cut the strings of their control over you. You see, if you're still rehearsing those past events then you continue to give that person power over your life today, and they don't even know it!

When you forgive you take that power away from them and from the past events. That's how YOU become new. You cut the emotional ties to the past and can now live in the present. If you're tied to the past you're missing the present and may be sacrificing your future. Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.

So, you may still remember that event - but it doesn't have the same power over you. You can crucify it with Christ. You put it on the cross and like all sin, it dies there. Christ's blood blots it out. And you can be a resurrected person in Him. That's what makes the 70 x 7 a joyful thing. Even if it comes up again in your mind - you can forgive all over again!! And that's a good thing.

If there's something from your past that has even entered your mind while reading this blog, maybe that's the thing you need to put your forgiveness focus on. Cut the strings. Let Christ set you free from those old emotions. Don't live back there. That's who you used to be. That's not who you are NOW in Jesus.

Talk with Him about it. And let Him help you give the gift of forgiveness to yourself because you are precious to Him.


Today's prayer:

Most Precious Lord Jesus…
Gentle and Wonderful God…
Truly Awesome and Ever-present Holy Spirit…
I put all of my life before you.
I pour out my soul before you.
If I hold anything against anyone, stop me from praying,
show me the error of my lack of forgiveness,
and send my heart to them to forgive them.
In your will and in your love,
make forgiveness a key stepping stone of my life.
In your will and in your love,
make my heart sing with thanksgiving over
all the blessings you pour down upon me.
All these things we humbly pray in the name
of our most Blessed Lord Jesus Christ,
our Mighty God, and our Ever-present Holy Spirit
upon whom we can rely.

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