Forgiveness Lightens Your Christian Walk
"21Then Peter came up and said to him, "Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" 22Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times." Matt 18: 21-22 (ESV).
When someone does you wrong it can be really hard not to react. It's even more difficult to control those emotions the closer you feel to the individual. Think about it. If you are at work or on the job do you lash out as easily as when you are among close friends or family when you're peeved at something? Almost always we exercise more restraint. We as Christians however need to have a different approach as the Lord reveals to Peter in this dialogue.
Cultivate Then Maintain an Attitude of Forgiveness
In the preceding verses Jesus speaks to the disciples about relational views in the family of God. The first view is the view of oneself before God (18:3). In coming to Christ, we should be like children, humble and unassuming. Secondly, the view God has of His creation, man, (18:12-13) and how precious He holds us. Finally our view towards and treatment of each other (18:15-22). The Lord sets the stage to help the disciples understand not only human worth in the eyes of God, but that we should see each other in the same way that God sees us.
The Lord emphasizes the dignity with which we should treat one anbother and outlines a gradually escalating process to help a brother or sister see their error before being considered as the unsaved. The scenario has been painted to show that this process isn't administered by someone indulging in a haughty mind, but one stooped in humility before God who is able to assess, not by man's standards, but but by the standards God has given his people. This person is also aware of how precious the offender is, despite the offence, and makes every effort the encourage him or her in the right path.
It is this revelation that seems to prompt Peter to inquire of the Lord, "How many times should we then forgive our brother?" The Lord's answer is rife. Not just seven times but seventy-seven times. Not a literal number but a prevailing attitude that should be reflected towards a truly repentant heart displayed by the perpetrator of the offence.
The Lord then gives us a stunning illustration of how easily we can forget the grace showed to us on misdeeds that we have committed against God, for which he was more than willing to forgive. How much more should we be willing to forgive those who trespass against us - if only because of shear gratitude of God's mercy to us. This,, however is not enough. For we are called to love even those who hate us (Matt 5:44-45), how much more so those who profess the same faith as we do.
The Benefits of a Forgiving Heart
A heart of forgiveness is not optional. It is an integral part of the Christian life and, as is the case with any transformation that God calls us to make, yields tremendous benefits. Forgiveness, demonstrated in God's way, is a catalyst in fostering many other traits that God desires in His children.
Increase in Love
Let forgiveness become the conduit to deliver love. There's no room to harbor hate in a forgiving heart and as forgiveness thrives, love must necessarily claim more of your character, and love, covers a multitude of sin (1 Pet. 4:8).
Enjoy the peace of God
When forgiveness reigns, revenge has no part to play in your daily walk and it's burden is removed. Forgiveness paves a path for the Holy Spirit to control your emotions and bring an abundance of peace.
Be Angry and Sin Not
With forgiveness as the intent, expressing disappointment or discontent isn't burdensome because resentment is immediately washed away with a desire for reconciliation. Hatred that clouds perception and drives daggers such as insults, reproach, exaggerations and the like, is robbed of fuel. From this, determining and resolving the seed of discord with the individual becomes easier.
Know when not to pursue
By holding to God's prescription for forgiveness you become blameless before Him. There is no fault to be attributed to you, just as the Lord could be seen just before his judges. The Lord also details the process for exposing the fault. If the other person is of like mind in seeking forgiveness for themselves then there shouldn't be a struggle for resolution and reconciliation. Otherwise there's no point in pursuing having laid your case. This person is already heaping coals of fire on his head.
God Gave Us The Blueprint So Let's Follow It
The Lord's account of the parable in Matt 18:23 to the end of the chapter gives a vivid depiction of not only the measure of God's mercy but also the expectation that He has of us who dare to call ourselves Christians.
The Lord not only talked the talk, He continues to walk the walk now as he did then on Calvary. He was willing to forgive our 10,000 talents. Don't miss the opportunities to forgive those who owe you a measly 100 denarii.