This passage from the Bible is often quoted:
Matthew 18:21,22 NLT – “Then Peter came to him and asked, ‘Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?’ ‘No not seven times,’ Jesus replied, ‘but seventy times seven!'”
The parable that follows in that same chapter tells about a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. One of his servants owed him a large amount of money which he couldn’t pay. Instead of giving him what he deserved, the king forgave him the debt and released him.
But that very servant who had been forgiven so much went out and demanded repayment of a debt owed to him, putting that person into prison until he paid up. When the king found out what he had done, he called for him and rebuked him saying, “Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?” Matthew 18:33 NLT
So the king then threw his servant into jail until his debt could be paid.
Matthew 18:35 NLT quotes Jesus saying: “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”
None of us can ever fully repay the debt we owe to God or others for the sins we have committed. Acknowledging that up front puts us in the place of desperately needing mercy; it puts our debtors in that place as well.
It’s clear from this passage that if we harbor unforgiveness in our hearts that we end up being imprisoned by it. You do yourself a big favor when you choose to forgive and extend mercy.
I’m also aware from my own experience that unfinished grief can be at the heart of incomplete forgiveness. Getting all our hurts and offenses out in the open with God and a trusted friend, processing them by bringing them one by one to the cross is how we work through both grief and forgiveness.
Choosing to forgive as often as we remember an offense is how we practice “70 x 7” forgiveness. With our mind and will we can do this 70 x 7 times a day if needed!
But there is a measure of forgiveness that is supernatural. It comes from experiencing the nearness of God. I believe this is what Jesus meant when he said, “…forgive your brothers and sisters from the heart…”
I believe this quote from Alexander Pope is true, “To err is human, to forgive divine.”
As we open our hearts fully to God, inviting Him in to do the work in the heart that only He can do, the miracle of forgiveness happens.
When we embrace Him and avail ourselves of the grace He has provided for us in His death and resurrection on the cross, all can be reconciled.
The way I picture it is that my personal sins can be deposited on the cross on the front side. On the back side of the cross all the sins committed against me can be deposited. Then graciously and supernaturally, all are rendered powerless, null and void of power to harm, there on the cross.
I am so thankful today for the power of His cross! Is it just as powerful today as it was over 2000 years ago when it happened.
His grace is there for the taking, all you need to do is come to Jesus and interact with him about it all.
Free yourself and free your debtors completely, once and for all, with the help of your loving, gracious God. He is here for you always.
Praying for you!