Kimberly N. Alleyne
The Harvest Magazine Publisher and Editor
Writing Challenge Day 4: Unlimited Forgiveness
Remember what Jesus said when Peter asked Him how many times he should forgive his brother? Peter asked, “Seven times, Lord?” And Jesus replied, “Not seven times, but 70 x 7.” He didn’t mean to forgive those who offend us exactly 340 times — he meant there is no number. That’s a lot of forgiving.
Forgiveness is most always hard and difficult. It takes more than uttering the words, “I forgive you.” We have to mean it, down deep in our souls. Just as offense is a heart issue true forgiveness is a heart motion. Choosing to forgive and then release our offenders is an inevitable choice that all Believers are confronted with along our love walk—regularly and often. For offenses are sure to come—regularly and often.
So what does 70 x 7 look like? What does that mean? Does that mean that I should allow someone to steal from me, lie to me, or cheat on me over and over and over and over? Does that mean that I should cover in mercy the person who continually spreads vicious rumors about me?
Ummm…well, yes….and no.
God does not call us to knowingly place ourselves in the way of harm, or to give others free access to our hearts. We must be diligent about guarding our hearts, and walk in wisdom about our relationships. However, we cannot prevent offense from touching our lives because we are mere human (carnal in nature) beings. So what do we do, how do we respond when it does?
I once dated someone who did not get along well the truth. Ha! He seemed most comfortable telling untruths. He lied so often and so effortlessly, that I began to think that his issue was mental in nature. His deception was painful, and caused unnecessary dissension in our relationship. However, each time he lied to me, I chose to forgive him. The act of forgiving him did not erase or condone his behavior; the act of forgiving him was a pure demonstration of the love of God. That is how love covers sin (I Peter 4:8): love outweighs our sins, transgressions and offenses. Love covers a multitude of faults. And since there is no condemnation in Christ, then I would have been wrong to condemn my former boyfriend for his deception. I had to show Him the love of God by pointing him to God. Anything else would have disappointed the Lord.
Let’s not get this twisted: forgiveness does not translate to being an offender’s spiritual wasteland. At some point, you must realize what God is trying to show you or do in you through a person’s offense. There is ALWAYS a purpose. God does not allow us to encounter heartache or conflict just because. There is AWALYS a purpose attached to our pain. ALWAYS.
Forgive. Release. Bless.
So I forgave him…but I eventually ended the relationship because the pain became to heavy, and I realized that he although even he admitted a lie and apologized, he was never truly repentant (True repentance = change). I found myself dropping too many tears over this person’s seeming inability to be truthful; he said he loved me but I remembered that a blessing from the Lord addeth no sorrow.
Because I chose to forgive him, I was able to release him from his wrongs against me, and now I pray for him often and ask God to pour out his richest blessings on him. Whenever I feel anger or bitterness brewing in my heart, I pray for him even harder. I let him know that I love him with God’s love, and that he can count me as a friend. Does that mean we’ll date again? Wisdom tells me not give him such intimate access to my heart or spirit man again; it does not tell me, however, to be unkind to him, to ridicule him or expose his wrongdoing to everyone I talk with. He needs the love of God not my wrath or vengeance. So while the chances are high that we won’t date again, I cannot carry unforgiveness for him—it’s far too heavy and obstructive.
I find myself stretched out in front of God’s mercy seat too often to have the nerve to walk in unforgiveness toward anyone…even those who have punctured my heart…
How Can I Forgive Someone Who Has Ripped My Heart to Shreds?
There is nothing of ourselves that equips us to forgive. Nothing. It’s the love of God–His Spirit–that dwells in us that enables us, empowers us to forgive. It’s a HUGE heart motion to cancel out someone’s betrayal, lies, bullying, or rejection. HUGE. But it’s no larger than what Jesus did to give us life, and no bigger than God’s ENDLESS supply of mercy for His children. Right? Think about it: there is nothing we can think, say or do that make God fall out of love with us. There is nothing we can do that He won’t forgive us for. (Psalm 103:12) Nothing. So if His forgiveness for us is ad infinitum, don’t we owe it to Him to show our brothers and sisters mercy? We really don’t have a right to withhold forgiveness, especially when we each need our own measure of it daily, if not hourly.
It’s All About the Son!
The Son gives us the power to forgive. His love tenderizes our heart to forgive. God’s steadfast love seeps into our hearts, turning stony hearts to flesh. It’s the Son! That is how family members of murder victims are able to forgive the person who murdered their parent, spouse, child or sibling. The love of God gives us that power. And it’s the very same mercy that Jesus Christ showed us when He laid down His life for us.
We’re powerless without the Son! Without Him, 70 x 7 will never add up.