“Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
“But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.”
Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’
“So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.””
Matthew 18:21-22, 25-27, 32-33, 35 NKJV
Seventy times seven
I owed a debt I could not pay. I owe a debt I cannot pay. In the conduct of life, we accumulate deficits, as we consume more than we have. In the spiritual realm, we accumlate a debt of sin, stumbling fleshlong into trouble as we make decisions and take actions that go against the holiness of God. Try as we might, we can’t help it. Even though we who are born again, having the power of the Holy Spirit to help us, we still have free will. Often that will gravitates toward sin.
I am thankful for God’s grace. I am more thankful that there is no penalty for those sins that erupt in my life. I am forgiven through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. It is an enduring sacrifice, eternal, never failing.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”
Romans 8:1-2 NKJV
Because of that great grace given to me through Jesus, by the Father, I am compelled to offer that same grace to others in and out of the household of faith. One of the realities of life, in and out of church, is that coinflicts are going to come. We will inevitably be wronged at one point or another. I can say that I, like most of us, have had many situations when others have hurt me.
Often, these hurts have come from people that we love, often coming one after another, as relationship brings proximity. We hurt the ones nearest us.
Many a family has been torn apart by some kind of feud, perhaps a sibling rivalry, or perhaps a struggle between parent and child, or even a divorce. It is easy in the pain of the moment to have difficulty with forgiving. This is especially true when the slights are ongoing.
When I struggle with this, I remind myself of what Jesus did for me. I would love to say that I have been a wondrously sinless man, who has lived completely cleansed of past behaviors. I would be lying, which in itself is a sin. There are days when I am glad when I head hits the pillow, as I won’t sin anymore.
There are sins that I feel deep shame for, taking to the Lord time after time. I cling to the grace of God, and find peace. I have found I have been able to see the roots of of sin, or the triggers, and have learned, albeit slowly, to be on the alert. I seek the Lord for rescue.
I am learning to recognize and internalize that God has made me new, and I am not enslaved to the sins that previously held me in chains.
“For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 6:20-23 NKJV
Brothers and sisters, we are called to be ambassadors for the Kingdom of Heaven. We are on mission, bringing the Gospel to all we know. A good starting place for that ministry is to go to the people we are closest to, often the people who have hurt us the most.
Forgiveness opens the doors of our hearts, that we be free to go and tell of that great salvation, as we have let go of the things that have separated us from others. We share time and time again, even with people who hate us.
We are going into a time when we must walk with grace, when we will need to call upon avery bit of the mercy of God to fill us, that we not be compelled to give those who go against what they deserve. It will involve asking God to remind us that were sinners, deserving of hell, and by the grace of Jesus we have a coming eternity in Heaven.
Let us be faithful to forgive as we have been forgiven, that those who are lost can be saved, moving from enemies to friends, from sinners to saints.
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