Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21-22
Then Jesus begins the parable of the servants who owed money to their master; and the one who owed a huge amount was forgiven the debt; after which he choked and imprisoned someone who owed him a pittance. I’m right there in the cheap seats, cheering when the master called him back in, tortured and imprisoned him till he could repay the original debt. Yeah! You deserve it, jerk!
But then– you know what I’m going to say, don’t you? God whispers. “Ahem…. ahem… I forgave you a huge debt. Remember? Shouldn’t you forgive the pittance that you think you are owed?”
Do you have anyone in your life that occasionally irritates or annoys you? Or hurts your feelings? Or makes you hopping mad? Like maybe your husband?
This might be hard to imagine, but sometimes Mr X is insensitive. He’s very smart and witty, and sometimes he can’t resist popping out a smart remark, going for the joke.
And there are other times he’s said and done things over the years that have hurt and disappointed. Of course he has! He is by nature a selfish, depraved sinner, just like me. It’s only God’s grace that makes us the least bit loving and loveable. I know all this, and I really love him so very much, and enjoy his company! He spoils me and loves me extravagantly.
But there are times when I start remembering some old offense, maybe from months or years ago. I’ll roll it around in my mind, over and over, looking at it from all angles, poking and prodding to see if I can figure out any motive or feeling I haven’t already. Did I remember it all? “Maybe he said this… He must have thought… I bet he didn’t even… I should have said… If that happens again, I’ll do…” Seriously, Auntie Em? Pitiful, I know.
And God is clearing His throat, giving me gently nudges. “Melinda… Remember… Micah 7:18″
Where is another God like you, who pardons the guilt of the remnant, overlooking the sins of his special people? You will not stay angry with your people forever, because you delight in showing unfailing love. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
Notice the remnant really is guilty. “Pardon” doesn’t mean they didn’t do it; it means they did it but don’t have to pay for it. And they sinned against GOD, sinless and perfect, not me, another sinner, who oftentimes had some part in the whole episode. But if we want Christlike characteristics, forgiveness is a big one!
We can’t stay angry and be like Christ.
We must show unfailing love. (which covers a multitude of sins 1 Peter 4:8)
We must have compassion. When everything calms down and a husband realizes he’s hurt the one he loves the most and is supposed to protect, it hurts him on many levels– to see her pain, and the disappointment he has in himself for falling short as a Christian and as a husband.
We mustn’t GO FISHING! When we make the choice to forgive, we need to throw the sin into the depths of the sea and leave it there.
When one of these temptations to relive an offense pops up, I say NO in my mind– I picture it in all caps. Then, I’ll actively use my senses– looking at what’s around me or concentrating on what I hear, something like that, and begin thanking God for forgiveness and newness in Christ. If the offense still hangs around, I’ll go to step 2, and say “That’s old news– over and done. Forgiven. In the bottom of the sea.” Usually by this time it’s gone, but if I need a step 3, there is Scripture and prayer– I realize that our enemy would like nothing better than to rekindle old hurts and disrupt our marriage, because he hates us and he hates God. He can’t get at God directly, so he picks on His children. I tell God I know what is going on, and need Him to take care of it for me, then quote some Scripture or hymns. I don’t have a huge store of chapter and verse memory, but I know this much:
When You forgive me, you justify me too- JUST AS IF I never sinned.
Love covers a multitude of sin.
Your grace is greater than all our sins.
Funny how God works! I had been dealing with pop-ups Saturday, and in our sermon Sunday morning our pastor said some of the very things God commands us to do for our own good are hard. The paralytic had to stretch out his hand. (Mark 3:5) The cripple had to pick up his pallet and walk. (John 5:8) The adulterous woman was told to go and sin no more. (John 8:11). And we are told to forgive, not just seven times, but seventy TIMES seven. Every time the offense comes to mind, we must choose to forgive again.
Did you get that?
Every time an offense comes to mind, we must choose to forgive again.
I suspect if you are an introspective, melancholic personality type line me, this might be a struggle for you, too. As I’ve gotten wiser (LOL and OLDER!) it’s become less of a problem because I can squelch it quicker. I figured out how to fight!
How do you deal with old wounds that try to pop up and cause new hurt all over again?