Again?

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By far, one of the most difficult things God asks of us as Christians is to offer forgiveness to one another. When we’ve been wronged, especially if it’s continual, it’s hard not to just look out for ourselves or make our forgiveness meritorious and conditional. If you’re feeling the pain of having to offer forgiveness, know that you’re not alone. No one can go through life and be exempt from being wronged or personally offended, unless of course you have no relationships with others at all. Even Jesus’ disciples struggled with this concept and asked Jesus how many times they should forgive.

In Matthew 18, starting in verse 21, Peter came up to Jesus and asked how many times they should forgive. Peter wondered if it would be enough if he forgave seven times. Jesus responded by saying, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:22).  What Jesus is saying is that there should not be a limit to the forgiveness we offer others.

Now I know what you’re thinking because I feel it too.  How is that kind of forgiveness even possible?  Shouldn’t the other person be held accountable for their actions?  Shouldn’t they have to earn my trust back or at least pay some kind of price for their wrongful deeds?  Jesus goes on in the rest of chapter 18 by teaching a parable of an unforgiving servant. When the servant who owed ten thousand talents  begged for forgiveness, the Master offered it to him without strings attached. It would be very easy for us to see how this parallels the forgiveness offered to us by God.  I could work daily for the rest of my life thanking God for the way he has forgiven me and it still would not be enough to earn it. That’s what true forgiveness is: an offer of grace that the offender cannot possibly pay back. We offer it not for what it gives us, but for what it gives God. Our offering of forgiveness goes up to him as a fragrant sacrifice where we deny ourselves and do what’s best for someone else (Ephesians 4:32-5:2).  It is a true and beautiful act of love that shows gratitude to a merciful God.

So when it’s time to forgive, and rest assured that time will come eventually, do your best to offer it freely and from the heart. Remember the immeasurable forgiveness God has offered you and use the opportunity to pass that grace on to someone else. Put your trust in God that by offering this sacrifice, he will protect you from abuse and reward you for your faith in Him.

-Joe

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6 thoughts on “Again?

  1. “We offer it not for what it gives us, but for what it gives God. ” Great quote. I also think that important distinction should be made between forgiveness and trust. I can forgive someone because by the grace of God, that is something to be freely given regardless of “worthiness”, but trust is, by definition, to be earned. To offer unqualified trust to someone can actually put them in harm’s way.

  2. Joe Butler

    Yes, you’re right and thank you for your insight. Trust is such a fickle thing, hard to earn but easy to break. I’ve had situations where I’ve offered trust well before it was earned and others when I offered it only after I observed it was safe to do so. It’s fair to say that each situation is different and we have to judge the presence or absence of truth and decide how to respond. There will inevitably come a time when we get burned as is the result of being in relationships with other fallible human beings, but there’s also the responsibility to love ourselves enough to not walk right into a dangerous situation as you implied. Prayer can be a very useful tool in these scenarios to get God’s guidance as to whether the person we’re dealing with needs to learn responsibility or they need an added measure of grace. Thankfully, we can always put our trust in Him.

    Thanks for reading the post today and I always value and appreciate your comments and feedback.

  3. Trust and forgiveness should be from inside. It should be given freely from the heart . We all are humans . No one is inferior or superior . Even if someone else hurt us we should have the moral duty of forgiving him .
    I truly appericiate each words on your post

    1. Joe Butler

      I love the part where you mention that no one is inferior or superior. If I truly examine my own life and all the situations where I’ve needed forgiveness, it’s much easier to pass that along to someone else who needs it too. We all too often rank people on a scale of “goodness” and decide whether they should recieve Grace from us or not. We all have our faults at times and they shouldn’t be ranked.

  4. Forgiveness for those who offend or harm me is not the challenge. …..it is forgiving those that hurt the people I love. I am a work in progress but constantly trying to live as we are called. I know I am making progress! For this I am thankful.

    1. Joe Butler

      Absolutely. We are all a work in progress. We will daily grow in the likeness of our Lord Jesus if we are willing to allow the Spirir to do his work within us. When we do, the natural effect is that love and forgiveness and patience spill out of our lives and blesses others. And ultimately, God recieves the glory.

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