As I picked up an old issue of R.C. Sproul’s “Tabletalk” magazine last night, I looked at the topic–The Freedom of Forgiveness–and expected a nice reminder of how I’ve been forgiven by God in Christ. I’ve never thought that forgiving others was something I struggled with. I haven’t been sinned against or betrayed in any major way, and I generally live at peace with people close to me. (Or so I thought.)
As I read the words of various authors in the magazine, God brought this thought to my mind: Have I truly forgiven the people living in my home as I should? I realized that I have not forgiven Christopher for exasperating me, disobeying me, and generally making my life difficult by being a stubborn 3-year-old who requires almost constant training and instruction. The familiar verses from Matthew 18:21-22 took on new meaning when seen in this light: “Then Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.'”
I’ve never thought that there was anyone in my life who would require this kind of extravagant forgiveness. But now that I think about, 70 times 7 sounds just about like the number of times my kids make me want to pull my hair out on any given day. And I realized that the way I respond to Christopher when he disobeys is usually as though it is the 489th time he has disobeyed me, and my frustration and resentment has been building with each infraction.
What would it look like to truly forgive Christopher for each act of obedience? It would mean that my response would be as though it was the first time he had EVER disobeyed. All previous offenses would be completely forgotten. I believe that response would look very different from the one I typically display. The same applies to my marriage–what if I responded to Noel as if it were the first time he had ever let me down or failed to meet my needs? What if I didn’t just roll over all the previous hurt and bitterness and apply it to every new time he offends me?
How can I possibly do this? In Matthew 18, Jesus goes on to tell the parable of the servant who had been forgiven a massive debt, but failed to forgive another person who owed him a much small debt. I can forgive my kids and husband seven times seventy times because I have offended God infinitely more times than that. In fact, I was an enemy of God, and He still loved me, pursued me, redeemed me, and adopted me as His daughter, all because of the blood of His Son shed on the cross for me. This amazing truth frees me to forgive and requires me to forgive.Share