Monday, September 27, 2010

70 x 7

Forgiveness. This can be such a hard thing for us humans, which is ironic, since we are all in desperate need of it on a daily basis. Sometimes I'm not sure which is more difficult--requesting it or granting it?

There are some people in my life that, honestly, I grow tired of forgiving. Particularly if it is for the same thing over and over and over again. I find that my forgiveness very often wants to be given with conditions. Things like, "Yes, I'll forgive you . . . as long as you've learned your lesson" and "Do you promise never to do this again?"

The only one who could ever even have the right to such conditions is God, and He chooses to ignore them. Instead He continually loves us unconditionally.

So why do I think that it's sometimes okay for me to withhold forgiveness from those who have wronged me? I am no better than nor any less sinful than anyone else on this earth. I have no right to harbor bitterness and resentment. But I do it anyway because, again, it's my sinful nature. However, the more I harbor these things, the more my heart is hardened.

When Peter asked Jesus, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?", Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven" (Matthew 18: 21-22). (Note: There are no ifs, ands, buts, or unlesses in that last sentence.) I'm pretty sure that the number Jesus gave here is not a magical number, as if on the 491st offense, no forgiveness is required. I think He's just saying, "Look. Your brother/sister/friend/neighbor/acquaintance/enemy/whomever is going to sin against you. A LOT! But it's not your job to offer consequences. I want you to forgive over and over and over again. Just like I do. To you! Over and over and over . . . "

God forgives me, and I am to pay it forward. That's all.

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