The Depths of Forgiveness

JESUS SPEAKING

“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in Heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.” (Mark 11: 25) In Matthew 18: 21 – 25, we read, ‘Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.'”

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

Peter asks Jesus what the limits of forgiveness are; initially expressing his belief in the sufficiency of seven times per day. However, the Lord quickly corrects him. Jesus uses an exaggerated number of 70 times 7, to emphasize the inexhaustible nature of forgiveness, as it pertains to repentant souls. By implication, Christ also vilifies the harboring of any resentments. Resentment is defined as, any persisting anger or indignation experienced as the result of another individual’s harmful, unfair, or detrimental treatment. Resentment is a destructive, selfish emotion that causes harm to those who refuse to forgive others absolutely.

As the story goes, on a prominent boulevard in Chicago there once stood for many years a fence eighteen feet high; erected by a woman who imagined her neighbor was peering into her windows. While it effectively cut off the in-look, it shut the sunshine out of her own yard, ruined the lawn, and cast a shadow upon the house. In a similar fashion, spite and resentment cast the heaviest shadows over the hearts that harbor them; shutting out the sunshine of life and the fullness of God’s peace.

Harboring hatred and resentment toward others separates us from God and produces destruction in our hearts and minds. If we have received God’s forgiveness, then entertaining spite and unforgiveness against others is unjust, hypocritical, and quite dangerous. Grace has been given, and grace, through us, must continue. As a practical matter, praying daily for those who have harmed us is extremely beneficial. By means of this mechanism, we are able to see our enemies as fallen individuals, in desperate need of a savior. We can then love them with God’s heart. There is nothing so freeing to the soul than the death of resentment.

“Lord Heavenly Father, we come before you as broken people; individuals who, aside from your grace, would be imprisoned in sin. If we are currently harboring any resentment toward others, make it known to us; and give us the strength, the courage, and the will to let go of our anger. Through forgiveness, may we continue to reach our enemies with the gospel message and serve our fellows without prideful intent and selfish ambition. We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name, amen.” God bless all of you!


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