Seventy Times Seven

Hurt. Offended. Betrayed. These three emotions can cause such havoc in your life and mental well-being. They consume your thought life, disrupting your concentration and your focus. They keep you up at night as you rehash and replay the very circumstance that brought the emotions in the first place.

And sadly, it is often the people in your life that are close to you that have the power to hurt you the most. What do you do when people you have confidence in let you down? How do you respond to betrayal? When your emotions feel abused, what should you do?

You forgive.

I don’t mean to oversimplify this act. I recognize how difficult it is to extend forgiveness to people who have wounded you. To make matters worse, many of you have been hurt over and over again by the same person. You might be thinking, “Jesus couldn’t possibly be suggesting that I need to keep extending forgiveness to the same person repeatedly.” Actually, He is.

I love the dialogue recorded between Peter and Jesus on this very subject:

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.” – Matthew 18:21-22

Peter thinks he is being so spiritual. The rabbis taught that forgiveness should be extended only three times. Seven times was extra generous. Surely, Jesus would be impressed. But, Jesus quickly corrects Peter, explaining that forgiveness has no limitations. You see, seventy times seven doesn’t represent an actual number. Instead, it represents the unlimited times we need to extend forgiveness to those who hurt us.

Ladies, I know that this may seem impossible and slightly unfair. But, our Heavenly Father continually forgives us for our sins. We offend Him. We hurt Him. And, we certainly have had our moments of betrayal, choosing our ways over His. Yet, His forgiveness is unlimited and so should ours be.

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. – Mark 11:25

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Forgive Me?

I don’t claim to be a perfect parent by any means. However, there is one exercise that I introduced to my kids when they were little that I am happy that I started. You see, every time one of my kids hurt, annoyed, or did something to the other that warranted an apology, I would make them say they were sorry and ask the other, “Do you forgive me?” With that, the offended child would reply, “Yes, I forgive you.” And of course, a good, old-fashioned Landmon hug would follow. Sounds simple, right? Well, yes and no. These weren’t just words that I made my kids recite to one another out of duty. I wanted to teach them the practice of learning how to ask for forgiveness, while at the same time, freely extending it. At this early age, I wanted to stress the importance of this freeing truth so that later in life, when the offenses were a little more serious, they would be able to extend forgiveness without hesitation.

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” – Colossians 3:13

Forgiveness is a big deal. In fact, the word forgiveness and similar derivatives are mentioned over 100 times in the Bible. Why? Because God knew how important this act is for the well being of His people. In fact, God not only suggests it, but commands us to do so.

Don’t be confused, forgiveness doesn’t condone or excuse the other person’s behavior. It simply releases the hurt that a person inflicts upon you and hands it over to God. When you hang on to bitterness and resentment, you prevent your spirit from sustaining the life God intended.

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” – Matthew 6:14-15

The reason we forgive is to protect our relationship with God. If we choose not to forgive others, Jesus will not forgive us our sins. Without the forgiveness of our sins, it creates eternal separation from God.

Ladies, I know many of you have been hurt far beyond the trivial dealings of sibling disputes, but the principle remains the same. Maybe you’ve been hurt by a friend, a relative, or even your spouse. You feel betrayed and wounded. Bitterness and anger have risen up inside of you.

You may be thinking it is impossible to forgive what has been done to you. I can assure you that God sees the heartache and the emotional scars in your lives, and yet He still requires you to forgive. But be encouraged. God will always equip you to do what He has commanded you to do if you rely on Him for strength.

Please forgive me for saying this, but it’s time to let go and let God handle it!