Peter asked Jesus how many times he needed to forgive someone who sinned against him. Then he gave what felt like a BIG number. “Up to seven times?”
I picture Jesus looking at Peter with a twinkle in his eyes, shaking his head and chuckling as he answered, “No, Peter, not seven times … more like seventy times seven.”
Peter’s eyebrows shoot up as he considers what Jesus just told him. You’ve got to be kidding! I imagine him thinking.
It isn’t too hard to forgive a minor offense. Even a major offense is forgivable when we understand the circumstances and the person shows remorse and seeks forgiveness.
But that isn’t always how it happens, is it?
Some people do the same dumb, hurtful things to us over and over … and over again!
Some people NEVER seem aware they hurt us. Or, if they are, they never seek forgiveness or allow us the dignity of closure.
“What about that, Jesus?”
He lets out a sigh, compassionate at my pain. But the truth does not alter to fit my circumstances.
“That, too,” he says as he lifts my chin and searches my hurting soul. “That too.”
I have learned that forgiving 70×7 isn’t really about the number of offenses. In my experience, it has been more about how many times you may have to lay down and forgive a transgression that has implanted—unrelenting—deep within your subconscious.
I’ve been there.
So deeply disappointed and wounded by someone I held in such high esteem that getting past their offense was as costly as the oil poured out from that Alabaster box.
I did forgive. Truly forgave.
And it still hurt.
And I still got triggered now and again.
And just when I thought I was past it because I could remember without reliving it, something would happen and prick the scar, and I would hurt from it all over again.
I had to take it back to the altar and lay it down at Jesus’ feet over and over again.
Freedom is a process to be walked out long after an event of recognition, acknowledgment, and decision.
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, patience, and self-control are all cultivated in the soil of forgiveness.
Sometimes it is easy, and grace overwhelms me completely. Sometimes it is a battle in my soul to yield my hurting heart to the freedom that relinquishing my right to be hurt brings.
How is your heart? What lingers still? What have you endeavored to release but still seems to have a hook in you—however small—that keeps you from being fully free?
Take it to Jesus.
Lay it down.
His compassion is such a comfort, and His mercy will meet you with fresh joy.