“Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”
In Judaism, forgiving three times showed a generous spirit. Believing that he has been particularly kind, Peter asked the above question.
“It depends on what sin, big or small… …”
“It depends on which brother, your close friend or new comer… …”
“It depends on how severe your hurt is… …”
“It depends on how you feel, take your time if you don’t feel like forgiving him… …”
These are the answers I wish to hear. But Jesus answered “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
When it comes to forgiveness, there is no bargain. Just forgive! It sounds very harsh and super hard. To forgive three times is barely doable to me. I can’t imagine to be like Peter forgiving as many as seven times. But God’s command is to forgive countless times!
Oh God, I need You.
We often think forgiveness is given only to those who deserve it. Those who deserve it are those who apologize and seek forgiveness.
One of my best friends and sisters-in-Christ did apologize for her provoking attitude and sought my forgiveness years ago. However, I chose not to forgive and harboured anger for two weeks, thinking that she didn’t deserve it.
During those two weeks, I was reading the book “More Pastoral Reflections” by Pastor William Wan. One day, I read “… forgiveness is about liberating oneself from the burden of sin and becoming free again to be the person God wants us to be. I used to think otherwise, that the forgiving is for the other person. How wrong I was! As long as I am unwilling to forgive, I am a prisoner of my own sin of unforgiveness and continue to be less useful than what God expects of me.” The words pierced through my heart convicting me of my sin of unforgiveness. The only thought at that moment was: I mustn’t harbour this sin for one more second. I closed the book, knelt down, and earnestly cried: “God, You must help me, I can’t do it. I don’t want to sin against You for one more second.” So desperate for God’s deliverance that I kept on praying, praying, and praying… Suddenly I both heard and felt a non-audible sound of my heart being set free! God helped me to forgive just like that.
Unforgiveness is detrimental to our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellness. Forgiveness liberates us to love again. It’s not easy, but there is no other way except to forgive. When we strive to obey the Lord, He will make a way. Many times I find myself still struggling in forgiving, but I know it’s worth it. And God’s grace is always sufficient. Don’t give up, my dear brothers and sisters.
Our Father in heaven, thank You for Your immeasurable mercy unto us which we can never pay back. As true beneficiaries of Your amazing grace, help us to put our excuses, emotions, and reasoning under Your Lordship. Empower us as we desire to pay it forward through Your mercy. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. In Jesus Name. Amen.
By Wang Dandan (YCKC Bulletin 9 February 2020)