Layers of Forgiveness
"Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, 'Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?' Jesus answered, 'I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.' " We've all heard this teaching from our Messiah Jesus likely seven times seventy times, and it's often delivered with a pierce to the heart and received with full conviction about the jerks we are for not forgiving after all we've been forgiven. Let's back up- our Messiah says we are to forgive 490 times (I know, it's a metaphor) when our brother sins against us. When our brother (or sister) misses the mark, errs or is mistaken against us, He admonishes up to seven times seventy. And of course launches into a fabulous parable about a slave who was forgiven the equivalent of $10M but wouldn't forgive his buddy for $100. I mean, that is a steep difference. So yes, the first slave was a bit of a tool to say the least. So when someone sins against us are we suppose to rush out and forgive? Just so "oh no big deal, I forgive you", even when they don't seek our forgiveness. When you read the host of other verses in Scripture, the idea would be, well, yes. But Jesus' parable only speaks to when the offender comes and seeks out forgiveness. And even more, when they beg for forgiveness. As far as the timing, how long, I am unable to say with certainty what He means. But what I do know is that we are not to let the sun set on our angry, to be angry yet do not sin- that sort of thing. So yes, get all kinds of mad, but don't sin, and don't go to sleep still mad. Work it out. With your God... What if forgiving 490 times is more about the layers of hurt that need to be released? After all, the scriptures speak to cleansing and healing over time sometimes from sin and sometimes from an illness. How many times have you thought you forgave someone, only to feel hurt or anger rise up when you think of an incident or see their face or even have an interaction with them and they do the same dumb thing over again? It happens more often than we're willing to admit. And if you're like most people, when you say I forgive you, it's through gritted teeth and a plastered smile on your face. Have you ever had the rich opportunity to lavish love and forgiveness on someone who seeks it out? Have you been given the chance to lavish forgiveness when they didn't ask for it? Saying you forgive someone doesn't always mean you actually do forgive. It's a heart condition. Seven times seventy is a lot of forgiveness thrown someone's way. But can I tell you, it's not for them, it's for you. Hebrews 12:15 "See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled." Ephesians 4: 31-32 "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you." See to it that no one comes short of His grace, otherwise a root of bitterness may spring up. Well, here's the thing- if you need to forgive someone it's because they did something to you that warrants forgiving and likely if you did not forgive immediately, right when the offense occurred, there began a root of bitterness to begin. And let's say you see them again, add water to the root. And what about when the thought pops in your mind of what they did, sprinkle a little fertilizer on the root, and now it's beginning to grow noice and big. Roots reach out, they are not static in nature. So it is with emotional roots. Forget about all the times before you knew our Savior or anything about forgiveness, goodness! There may very well be an innumerable amount of bitter roots that have grown, stretched and branched out in your weary soul. Forgiveness is a healing tool for you and you alone. Again, it is not for the offender, but for the offended. Forgiveness happens before they ask for it, because it feels good in your body, at a cellular level. HOW ON EARTH? Well on earth it is impossible, but in the heavenly places, forgiveness is quite an easy load to bare. "Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in Heaven..." Did you catch that? His will be done on earth how it is in Heaven. In Heaven, it's perfect, forgiveness abounds, sins are not remembered. We ask His will here on earth, just like it is in the heavenly places, where we are seated with Messiah, by the way. We must recognize forgiveness will require a peeling back of layers and scores of grace for ourselves when we realize there is still a root of bitterness present. The scripture says the may be a root that springs up and causes trouble, and if you've ever done any sort of weeding, you understand the roots can get stubborn and deep. Sometimes you need to dig hard, through blood, sweat and tears. So it is with walking in forgiveness. Through journaling, through using your essential oils in order to rewrite old thought patterns about someone, through praying over them and their needs. Listen, the quickest way to uproot the bitterness is labor in prayer for your offender. How satisfying is it to know our Almighty God will deal with the offender. Trust me, there is no one on earth who wants to fall into the hands of God after they've messed with one if His kids. They will require your prayers. One of my offenders, kind of a biggie, ended up with prostate cancer. This person never owned up to what they did, and yet I have prayed for their family over the years. The bible is very clear about the wicked and sinners- they do receive a consequence here on earth should they choose to be stubborn old mules. Pray for them, and in doing so it is akin to heaping fiery coals on their heads. (Romans 12:20) This is a proverbial expression Paul uses, signifying to call up, by favors you confer on your enemy- the memory in him of the wrong he has done you (which should pain him as if live hot coals were heaped on his head), that he may be more readily to repent. The Arabians call things that cause very acute mental pain "burning coals of the heart" and "fire of the liver". When an offense comes, remember forgiving them in a timely manner is crucial. Not for them, but for you. It's between you and your Heavenly Father. And friend, their offense, is between them and your Heavenly Father. Lord help the person who hurts one of God's children, especially His girls. Oh we indeed are precious to Him, are we not?