But First: FORGIVE

October 16, 2017

Then Peter came up to Him and said, Lord, how many times may my brother sin against me and I forgive him and let it go? [As many as] up to seven times?
Jesus answered him, I tell you, not up to seven times, but seventy times seven!

{Matthew 18:21-22, AMP}



No. And then no again.

But first forgive.

Not after the coffee. Not after the selfie. Not after scrolling through Instagram or Facebook. First, and above all, forgive.

It’s so easy to demand apologies from others. It’s so easy to insist on a child saying “I’m sorry.” It’s so easy to hold grudges and place stipulations upon others for their wrongdoings.

Yet do we impose the same requirements upon ourselves as we inflict upon others?

We insist upon an apology but do we sincerely accept that apology? Instead of graciously accepting the apology with an “I forgive you,” do we use that apology as a punishment toward the person who wronged us until we’re ready to forgive? Do we accept the actual repentance with as much insistence as we do upon the act of repentance?

I must admit I’ve been guilty of using apologies as a means to make a guilty party feel that guilt. I’ve narrowed my eyes and said “apology accepted” when the apology certainly did not make its way into my heart to truly pour out forgiveness like it should have. I have held grudges for far too long and that only began to stir bitterness and hatred in my heart instead of punishing the other person like I thought it would.

Does it seem to you that the Apostle Peter may have been just a little frustrated with a particular person? It would seem like he was getting just a little annoyed with having to forgive a certain person multiple times. Perhaps he had forgiven this person seven times — maybe a few more! — and he wanted Jesus’ opinion on this whole forgiveness issue. Maybe he was hoping that Jesus would tell him that he had forgiven plenty of times and to carry permanent resentment against the re- peat offender.

Instead, Jesus astounded Peter with His answer: I’m sure Peter certainly wasn’t expecting Jesus to tell him to forgive someone forty-nine times.

How would you feel if you had to forgive the same person forty-nine times? That’s almost one offense per week for an entire year! What if you had to forgive one person forty-nine times in one day?

Yet how many times does Christ forgive us in a year, a month, a day? He holds no grudges against us. He doesn’t take our repentance with a scowl on His face and then throw it back up to haunt us the next day. Jesus doesn’t hold back His forgiveness from us until we have proved that we are exempt from mistakes. He love us and accepts that in our humanity we will make mistakes because we are not perfect. Yet in our imperfections He loves us. In our imperfections, He offers grace, forgiveness, and salvation.

How much then should we accept an apology from a friend? A parent? A sibling? A coworker?

Forgiveness is what has given us life. Because of Jesus’ love for us, He died on Calvary and rose again. He forgave us through the shedding of His blood. He redeemed us through His suffering. How then should we give of ourselves to forgive others?

It’s sobering to know that the God of the whole world showed forgiveness to His own creation so that we could have salvation. How much more then should we be intentional about showing grace and forgiveness to others just as Jesus did for us? It is essential to living a truly intentional life.

So first, my darling, and above all, forgive.