May 26, 2015
READ: Matthew 18:15-35
How often should I forgive someone? (v.21).
Something about my 4 year old daughter’s outfit looked odd. Taking a closer look, I noticed that her pockets were packed with stones. While our family had been roaming an outdoor area, she had been picking up pebbles and saving them. I had to empty her pockets; it was making it hard for her to walk!
We sometimes save up past offences until it becomes hard for us to move forward in life. Unkind comments and social slights can haunt us for years. Fortunately we can unload these emotional weights when we forgive “from [the] heart” (Matthew 18:35).
Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me?” (v.21). Peter knew he might need to forgive the same person multiple times, so he suggested what seemed like an appropriate number—seven. Jesus said, “No, not seven times . . . seventy times seven!” (v.22). This kind of frequent forgiveness makes it hard for resentment to fester.
Although some small issues can be settled in the quietness of our own hearts (Proverbs 19:11), more significant offences require an honest conversation with the person at fault. If the guilty party listens and confesses the wrong and we freely forgive, the relationship can be salvaged (Matthew 18:15). Genuine restoration is more than just an exchange of words.
We may feel justified in holding on to our hurt. We may feel that forgiveness means we’re saying it’s okay for someone to mistreat us. And although there may be times when withholding forgiveness is the loving thing to do, those times should be the exception. Jesus doesn’t want us to endure the weight of grudges and past hurt. He wants us to enjoy the love that thrives when we forgive others (Proverbs 17:9).
—Jennifer Benson Schuldt
365-day-plan: Jeremiah 38:1-13
Read Luke 7:47 to learn about the relationship between love for others and forgiveness from God. Look up Psalm 32:1-2 to see the positive effect that forgiveness has on one’s soul.
How might a Christian respond to an insincere apology? When might it be appropriate not to forgive? What does God’s forgiveness look like?