Read Matthew 18:21-35 silently.
Read the passage slowly and deliberately. Highlight any words or phrases that stand out to you.
Peter came to Jesus with what he thought was a generous suggestion on the frequency of forgiveness: seven. Seven probably felt like a good answer. The teachers of Peter’s day recommended forgiving someone three times. Seven was way above that, and seven has always represented completeness. So, when Jesus looked at Peter and said seventy times seven, I am sure Peter’s jaw dropped.
Jesus said that if you are counting how many times you have to forgive someone, you’re not really forgiving them. Don’t keep track of the it, just freely forgive.
Forgive without end.
It’s one of the hardest things Jesus ever told us to do.
Even today, forgiveness is a tremendously difficult thing, and we believe so many lies about what it means.
Forgiveness does not mean instant repentance or reconciliation. (Jesus forgave the men who crucified Him, but it only seems to have affected the centurion.)
Forgiveness does not mean forgetting what happened, nor does it mean the pain of what happens goes away.
Forgiveness does not mean things will be like the way they were before.
Forgiveness does mean, however, that we are to forgive as we have been forgiven.
Jesus told His disciples a story about a man who owed his king an unfathomable debt. The man owed ten thousand talents, which was likely the maximum amount the ancient mindset could comprehend. The king forgave the man’s debt in a lavish display of grace. Sometime later, the man had an opportunity to extend the same kind of grace that he received. The man had been set free by his king but let his heart harden and chose to punish someone for owing him a hundred day’s wages.
By refusing to forgive he chose to remain in his ugly prison.
We are the people of extravagant forgiveness. Jesus’s forgiveness should change us into the forgiven who are called to freely forgive.
(I can’t get over what they did.)
How can we forgive?
(It just hurts too much.)
What if they hurt me again?
(I can’t let go.)
His forgiveness means that you are not your scars.
You are not what they did to you.
You are a child of God.
His forgiveness means that His love frees us from the bondage of our hurt. Forgiveness frees us from holding the person accountable for what they did. We surrender them, and the burden of justice and revenge, to God. That responsibility is too much and too heavy for you to bear. You were never meant to carry that.
Surrender them and the need for it to be made right to the One who says, “Father, forgive them. For they know not what they do.”
Trust Jesus with your hurt. Trust the One who embodies the extravagant forgiveness of God. He is standing in front of you right now, inviting you to forgive them and step out of your prison.
Release them. You’ve suffered enough.
Give it to Jesus.
When you are ready, take His hand.
Forgive them freely, as He forgave you.
If you open your hearts and are willing to forgive others, then your heart will also be open to receive God’s love and forgiveness. If it is locked up to one, it is locked up to the other.
Let them go.
Make room for His love.