It has to be the most God like thing we can do! Forgive someone who has wronged us. But for some of us, it can be the most difficult thing we do! The bible gives us clear guidance on forgiveness. But it’s still very hard to do for some of us.
Forgive (af’-es-is) (aphesis) means release, forgiveness, deliverance, suspension of punishment. BDAG lexicon defines aphesis as the act of freeing and liberating from something that confines. Interesting, when you forgive, it’s a liberating experience.
I believe it has everything to do with the mind and heart, and right now the mind is winning!
Before we get to the heart and mind. I want to show you that we are both the object and subject of forgiveness. God (subject) forgives you (object)! First the object, look at God’s continuous forgiveness for a believer.
David’s a great example of this!
Nathan the prophet comes to David, after he had gone to be with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah and said, “You are the man.”. 2 Samuel 12:5-6, 7. Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” 2 Samuel 12:13.
David writes Psalm 51, where he asks for God’s forgiveness, for grace, mercy and compassion…
Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness;Psalm 51:1-4
According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity
And cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions,
And my sin is ever before me.
4 Against You, You only, I have sinned
And done what is evil in Your sight,
So that You are justified when You speak
And blameless when You judge.
It’s clear to see David is crying out to God, “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity And cleanse me from my sin.”
David continues in verses 10-13…
Create in me a clean heart, O God,Psalm 51:10-13 [Emphasis Mine]
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
And sustain me with a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners will be converted to You.
David was forgiven by God, and his joy was returned to him. He then became useful to God again! How do I know that? Psalm 32:1, “How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered!“
Why am I bringing up sin against God?
If God can forgive us for sinning against Him, 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”, we should be willing to forgive wrongs and sins against us!
I (subject) forgive you (object)….
Even 70 times 7
Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.Matthew 18:21-22
I can see Peter, being Peter! He’s calculating in his mind 70×7. Ok that’s almost 500 times we have to forgive, well, 490 to be exact! That’s a lot of forgiveness. We know it’s about the numbers for Peter, he’s the one who brought it up. “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”
Brother is adelphós (ad-el-fos’) which can be translated, brother, brethren or a fellow believer, united to another by the bond of affection! (Thayer)
Peter is probably remembering Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:15, “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.”
How many times Lord? It seems to me Peter wanted to forgive as few times as possible. But still far more generous in his forgiveness than we are! He’s willing to go at least seven times, we have a hard time with the first one!
Why is it so hard to forgive?
Because forgiveness is a matter of the heart and not of the mind. The mind will only keep a record of wrongs. If we keep thinking over and over the wrong someone has done, forgiveness will never reach the heart.
Our unforgiven attitude will make its home in our mind and pop its ugly head out many times.
The spirit of forgiveness is to forgive seventy times seven, Jesus means there is no limit on how many times we forgive!
After Jesus answers Peter with seventy times seven, He then moves onto the parable of the unforgiving slave in Matthew 18:23-35. Long story short, the king forgives one slave, but that slave doesn’t forgive his fellow slave. The King handed that slave who was forgiven so much to be torture until he paid.
Why? Because he wasn’t willing to forgive as he was forgiven. His heart should have been ripe for forgiveness, but instead his mind was full of greed and retaliation.
We, as Christians have been forgiven much through Christ, so we need to unplug our brains and use only our hearts to forgive. The mind says keep thinking about the wrongs, the heart says forgive, like we were forgiven! Jesus said forgiveness comes from the heart. Matthew 18:35.
When we don’t forgive, we are the prisoner, we are the ones held captive, and we are the ones in chains. We are in bondage to our minds.
When we forgive, it breaks the chain of bondage to our mind and sets us free to move on and love again.
I know it’s hard for some to forgive a wrong that is done to them. I believe in my heart that Jesus meant that seventy times seven, means we forgive forever or until infinity, whichever one comes first!
“How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
Whose sin is covered!“
Jesus said, “forgiveness comes from the heart!”
…and that’s a beautiful thing!