“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times”
Forgiving others is not easy – the cross tells us that. Some offences are far more difficult to deal with than others. In some cases the reality is that it might even take years for the act of forgiving to be fully and finally completed.
Sometimes we may need to keep on forgiving someone. This can be due to the fact that the pain keeps on surfacing in our lives. This could be as we discover new layers of pain, face continual reminders of the event or experience the ongoing consequences and suffering that was caused.
Forgiving is not the same as forgetting. There are some things that we will obviously never forget. Forgiving is also not saying that the particular act or event does not matter. It might matter very much indeed and be terribly and tragically wrong. Forgiving also does not infer that we have been set free from the pain or hurt or other consequences. For that we might need healing. However forgiving others, or beginning the process of forgiving others, is often the key to the beginning of healing within us. One of the things that happens when we forgive another person is that we set ourselves free from the unseen hold and influence that they have in particular areas of our lives.
Forgiveness releases the healing power and love of God into lives and situations – often in ways that we might never have imagined possible. And as that healing begins to take effect we might well discover that it is beginning to take the pain out of the particular memories.
Areas of unforgiveness in our lives can become like large and well-embedded stones in a field. They are not always visible but they prevent the field – or life – from being as productive, fruitful and attractive as it should be. When taken to God they can be dealt with and even transformed into areas of great fertility and beauty –renewed by the living water of the Holy Spirit as He washes, cleanses, heals, feeds and brings new life right there.
Forgiveness does not mean that relationships are automatically restored to the way they once were. In some cases that will not happen. In others a new relationship might form. If trust has been broken then a new trust may have to form and be earned.
Forgiveness acknowledges the past, embraces the present and brings new hope and life to the future. So Jesus prayed from the cross, “Father forgive them.”
Am I in bondage to unforgiveness in my life?
Father God, please help me to face the reality of any unforgiveness in my life. From the blessing of my having been forgiven, and in the power of love brought into my life by the Holy Spirit, please help me to decide to forgive and to set the person/s concerned free from me and me from them. In Jesus name. Amen.