This person had hurt me again and again.
They had stepped on my toes.
They had left me annoyed.
They had let me down.
I had forgiven them in the past, but new offenses had taken the place of their forgiven place.
I thought, in my mind I thought, "This person - again? How many times do I have to go back to this person?"
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.” (Mt. 18:21-22)
Jesus doesn't call us to forgive and be done. He knew that one who is forgiven once, likely needs to be forgiven and forgiven again and again. He doesn't call to a blanket statement forgiveness system, but a system of ever-flowing, ever-aware and ever-outpouring forgiveness.
How many times does Jesus forgive me?
He calls us to seek out the unknown pits of resentment we hide- in us -
to uncover the known depth of love that he stands ready to outstretch - through us.
A moment of prayer highlighted my black tar within. I never would have realized it if I hadn't asked. I had forgiven this person so many times, I thought they were covered. I thought I had forgiven.
Jesus knows that people hurters (like you and me) are likely to hurt again and he calls us to forgive them again. Why? Because we are called to something greater - agape love. Not love that says, "I love this day, I love your hair, I love that shirt. I love this place." Not a shallow, convenient or useful love, instead we are called to the hard depths of real love. We are called to a love like Christ loved.
To love with a love that says, "Despite what you did to me (Example: nailing me to a cross):
I see who God made you to be.
I offer unconditional benevolence towards you.
Nothing can hold me back from offering deep goodness to you.
Christ shows me how to turn the other cheek.
Nothing can conquer the deep heart I have for you.
"...The greatest of these is love." (1 Cor. 13:13)
"As the Father loved me, so have I loved you, now remain in my love." (John 15:9)
Does a bag of unforgiveness weigh you down? Have you been carrying around load of unneeded junk?
I noticed, the only back unforgiveness was breaking was mine.
It didn't cause pain to the person that hurt me.
It didn't teach them a lesson.
It didn't make them change.
But, my shoulders slumped, my heart felt a little more heavy and my walk with God was burdened.
Yet, as I sought God; he revealed to me new view that changed my perception on forgiveness.
"Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord," (Acts 3:19)
"Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. (Mt 18:18)
When we forgive and we remove junk out of our purse,
the Lord doesn't leave us with an empty hole.
He doesn't leave that space unoccupied.
When we forgive the Lord comes back in to fill us up again.
You see, forgiveness is an exchange of our weighted junk for his refreshment.
Refreshment that offers wave after wave of grace, mountain after mountain of joy, an eternal hope of glory, solid-rock security, never ending significance and a waterfall of constant renewal.
Will we accept all that he has for us?
Will we reach out and grab it?
Becuase he holds this refreshment out to us.
The question is - will we seek to forgive?
Let's ask God who to forgive.
Then he will remove the weight of unforgiveness that ties us down to resentment, so we can run our race unencumbered.
As we humble ourselves in love, God fills our bag. He fills it so high it brims with his goodness.
We let go of the stronghold we have on the straps, we realize we are strongly held by him. He removes the weight of our straps and lightens our load in his love - to love.
The power of forgiveness is immense. Love transforms, lightens and lifts. Don't miss the chance to ask God who you need to forgive today. He will pack your bag so full, you will finally see that what he offers is far greater than that ugly bag of junk you have carried around so long.
“…Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Luke 7:47-48