By Rick Warren — Jul 14, 2017
“Peter came to him and asked, ‘Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?’ ‘No, not seven times,’ Jesus replied, ‘but seventy times seven!’” (Matthew 18:21-22 NLT).
Forgiveness is rarely a one-time event. So how often do you have to keep releasing your right to get even?
Until you stop feeling the hurt — then you’ll know you’ve forgiven that person.
Matthew 18:21-22 says, “Peter came to him and asked, ‘Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?’ ‘No, not seven times,’ Jesus replied, ‘but seventy times seven!’” (NLT).
Peter thought he was being pretty magnanimous. In Jewish law, you had to forgive a person three times, and after you’d forgiven them three times, that was it. You didn’t have to forgive them anymore. So Peter’s thinking, “The law says three times. How about if I double it, and add in one for good measure? Seven times? (God’s going to be really impressed with this!)”
And Jesus says, “Wrong! You’re not even close! How about 70 times seven!” He’s saying you have to just keep on doing it. You just keep on forgiving until the pain stops. Every time you remember that hurt, you make an intentional choice to say, “God, that person really hurt me, and it still hurts. But because I want to be filled with love and not resentment, I am choosing to give up my right to get even and wish bad on that person. I am choosing to bless those who hurt me. God, I pray you’ll bless their life — not because they deserve it. They don’t. I don’t deserve your blessing either, God. But I pray that you’d show grace to them like you’ve shown to me.”
It’s not easy. In fact, I have no doubt that for some reading this, your marriage is about to self-destruct — not because of the hurt but because of the unforgiveness. It’s not the hurt but the refusal to forgive that destroys a marriage.
You may say, “I don’t feel like forgiving.” Who does? Nobody ever feels like forgiving. You do it because it’s the right thing to do, and you do it to get on with your life. These steps are not easy, but with God’s power, you can do it.
Talk It Over
- Is there a broken relationship in which you’ve blamed “irreconcilable differences”? How did unforgiveness play a part in the collapse of that relationship?
- What hurt from the past still brings you pain? How can forgiveness help you move forward?
- When it comes to your relationships, what does it mean to have God’s power working in your life?