How much is enough?
In Matthew 18:21-22, Peter asked an important question, "How oft should my brother sin against me and I forgive him?" If someone offends us continually, how many times should we forgive him? What was Peter saying? What is the limit on forgiveness?
Jesus said, I say not unto thee until seven times, but until seventy times seven; or 490 times. What was Jesus saying? You need to forgive and forgive and forgive, etc.
Notice in Matthew 18:21, the Bible says "brother" not "brothers." Did you ever have one person continually offend you? Mark 11:25-26 says, "And when ye stand praying, forgive. If ye have ought against any, that your father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses."
What is the Bible saying in these passages? You cannot be right with God and hold unforgiveness toward others. I tell young people you cannot be right with God and not be right with Dad and Mom. Thank God when we do sin; we can come to Jesus.
The Bible says in I John 1:9, "if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." We constantly need to take a spiritual shower. We are very prone to hold bitterness inside our hearts. Are you dirty with unforgiveness? We must cleanse ourselves from hurt feelings, revenge, or a critical tongue.
Do you want to self-destruct? Jesus suggested if someone does offend you, forgive him 490 times. We must learn to forgive and forgive and forgive, etc.
Eventually, everyone will get offended and be tempted to harbor hurtful feelings. The key is this, look for forgiveness. Don't stay in bitterness or hurtful feelings. Our pride says, "Don't forgive."
However, love says, "Adjust and forgive and forgive and forgive, etc." Think about something, our sinful nature doesn't want to forgive. It wants to strike back and be vengeful. However, Jesus said to Peter if someone does sin against you, forgive and forgive and forgive, etc.
Our unforgiveness is like a boomerang. It always comes back to you.
In hatred, everyone loses. It can affect your blood pressure and your sleep. You could experience depression and even digestive problems.
I often wonder about something. If God can forgive a murderer, a prostitute, a drug addict, or a drunkard, why can't we forgive? It is important to have the attitude of "forgive and forgive and forgive, etc."
Unforgiveness will destroy any relationship.
How can we have the attitude of forgiving continually? We must know what forgiveness is: It is suffering for the sins of other; it is accepting some undeserved suffering; and it is vicariously suffering for someone else. Christ portrayed this at Calvary.
People say, "I'll forgive if he pays me back, or if he asks me." Who suffers the most when someone doesn't forgive? The person who does not forgive. It affects every part of our lives. Think about something: how much has God forgiven you? How does God forgive? He forgives and forgives and forgives, etc.
Remember this thought: People are broken. People hurt others because they are broken. Why can't people forgive? They are broken in the area of forgiveness. We must forgive and forgive and forgive, etc. I found out something: when people criticize, it is usually because they are stressed.
Abraham Lincoln said, "My heart has no room for the memory of a wrong." Let me ask you a question: Do you want people to hate you, to be bitter at you? Of course not. We want people to forgive us; how much more should we forgive.
How much should we forgive? Jesus said in Matthew 18:21-22, "Then came Peter unto him and said, Lord, how oft should my brother sin against me and I forgive him; til seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee until seven times, but until seventy times seven."
In closing, let me ask you a question: Is there anyone you won't forgive? I have a goal for the people of our church and that is this: strive to be right with every individual. How can we do this? By having an attitude of continual forgiveness. How much should we forgive someone? We should forgive and forgive and forgive and forgive and forgive.
Robert Hranicky is the pastor of the Bethel Baptist Church in Sligo.