Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
The Christian life holds countless blessings. But a life dedicated to following Jesus Christ also presents painful challenges. One of the most difficult is forgiveness. We are commanded to forgive those who have hurt us, but while our minds may acknowledge this act needs to be done, our hearts may not be convinced. Sometimes it seems we are waiting for the other person to make the move. We bargain and reason with God, “I will forgive when the other person first acknowledges that they were wrong. They have to meet me halfway.” Other times we may feel, “What they did to me was so terrible, they deserve to be punished.” Yes, God does hold everyone accountable for their actions and they will reap what they have sown. But this still does not excuse us from obeying God and forgiving someone who has hurt us. These rationalizations may make good coffee table psychology, but this is not what God commands.
There is no formula or time schedule and no guarantee that this hurt will not recur. We need to cling to the promises that Jesus Christ has given us. It is ironic that the Apostle Peter asked this question of Jesus. It would not be long after Peter asked this question that he would betray Jesus by denying he knew Him, even after emphatically stating he would never leave Him. Jesus was betrayed by one of His closest companions. But after Jesus was resurrected, He forgave and restored Peter, searing this lesson into his heart.
When Peter was forgiven, it allowed him to love Jesus with an even more fervent love. It allowed him to become a better person, forgiving and loving others with a compassionate insight that he never previously experienced. And it all began when Jesus forgave him.
Pray about any hurt you have experienced. Pray for the person who has hurt you and ask God to enable you to forgive this person. And pray that when forgiveness occurs, the love and fellowship between the two of you will be rekindled.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.