Faith & Insight: Forgiveness: Where do you draw the line?
Another question asked at this point could help answer the first, namely, where does God draw the line?
Peter once asked Jesus where he should draw the line in regards to forgiveness …
Then Peter came to him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” (Matthew 18:21)
Peter was being “big hearted” in his willingness to consider “up to seven times.”
Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. (Matthew 18:22)
Jesus wasn’t saying to Peter that the correct number was 490 times, but that it was exponentially greater than he was willing to grant, even with his “bigheartedness.” Jesus was saying — “Don’t count, forgive.”
The principle of forgiveness is a major focus in Jesus’ ministry and an essential life-pattern for his disciples, then and now.
The basis of our being willing and able to forgive others is rooted in the abundant overflowing forgiveness and grace that God has, and continues to lavish on all who come to him. Freely you have received, freely give. (Matthew 10:8)
Is forgiveness optional? You can choose not to forgive, but there are definite consequences, consider …
“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” (Mark 11:25-26)
Medically it has been said that the vast majority of human ills are related to repressed attitudes of bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, hate, anger and self-pity, self-justification, and self-centeredness. Unforgiveness exacts its toll on our lives, bodies, relationships, for as long as we choose not to forgive.
In your life, establish and grow in a willingness to forgive offenses quickly. Know that conflicts cause greater damage to relationships when they are left unresolved. Remember that God forgives us as we forgive others who have sinned against us.
I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said, ‘Don’t get mad, Get even!’ I would change it to say, “Don’t get mad, Don’t get even, Forgive!”
Louis J. Locke is founding pastor of Fountainhead Foursquare Church, http://www.ffccarson.org.