Forgive. I did a quick search in the Blue Letter Bible on “forgive” and it occurs 75 times in 64 verses in the NIV. Jesus commands us to forgive in Matthew 11:25-26, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12 NIV) This is what sets us apart from others so why am I struggling with forgiveness?
I’ve often been told forgiveness requires nothing from the person who committed the offense. It only requires one side and it doesn’t condone the actions and behaviors of the person being forgiven. It seems simple enough, right? Afterall, forgiveness only requires my action. So why does my body tense up when I hear or see that person in passing? I can feel the tightness of my jaw clenching and my mouth ready to be open like a floodgate. If forgiving is supposed to be for me and produce compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience then why am I so angry?
It’s because I allowed the offense to take root in my heart. The wound was still raw. It was wide open bleeding. It bled hurt, bitterness, anger, and frustration. I understand now why Apostle Paul said to forgive and forgive quickly otherwise the offense starts to rot in your heart.
Forgiveness first starts at the heart. I was still holding on to the pain versus surrendering it to God. It’s essential I partner with God and allow the Holy Spirit to comfort and counsel me through the healing process. Colossians 3:15 reads, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” I must allow Jesus to take control of my heart if I want to find peace.
So why am I constantly having to forgive the same individual more than once? Because sometimes it requires forgiving that individual multiple times. Matthew 18:21-22 reads, “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.” I wasn’t alone struggling with forgiveness. Apostle Peter also asked Jesus the same question. Jesus knew we would struggle, that's why he told Apostle Peter “not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
It might take seventy-seven times or one thousand times to forgive the same person. The way Jesus talked to Apostle Peter is the same way he does for us. I hope you also found comfort in his words as it did for me. Jesus doesn’t want us to hold on to offenses. He wants us to be free. Free from hurt. Free from bitterness. Free from anger. Free from frustration. Because when we forgive, we are reminded of God’s forgiveness for us and his love for us through the cross of Jesus.