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How many times do we need to forgive someone? That was the question Peter asked Jesus,


Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” — Matthew 18:21


Peter thought he was being magnanimous, the rabbinical standard of the day was three times. Jesus however, realized that if you’re looking for a limit, then you don’t understand forgiveness,


Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” — Matthew 18:22


Jesus then gave His disciples a parable to teach them the true nature of forgiveness. He told them about a man who owed the king a large debt that he could not pay. The man asked the king for mercy and he was graciously forgiven the debt. The Greek word for forgive literally means to send away or to release. The lesson is that one who is forgiven much should be a forgiving person.


The man who had been forgiven much however, found an individual who owed him a small amount that could reasonably be paid over time. Rather than forgiving the man he threw him in prison. The man who had been shown mercy did not extend mercy to others. When the king learned what had happened, he confronted the man who had been forgiven much,


Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. (Matthew 18:32-34)


Jesus closed the story with this warning,


My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.” — Matthew 18:35


Jesus takes forgiveness seriously because He realizes the destructive effects of unforgiveness; it’s analogous to drinking poison and hoping the other person will die. Holding onto resentment is allowing others to continue to harm you. You must understand that forgiveness is not forgetting. Forgiveness is an acknowledgement of the sin against you and choosing to let go. Forgiveness is not a feeling but it’s a crisis of the will.


When you forgive others from the heart, you experience freedom. There is no heavier load than the chip on your shoulder. Who is someone you need to forgive? As you think of extending forgiveness toward others, remember not to harbor resentment toward yourself. Sometimes we even harbor resentment toward God. God is not the author of confusion. Satan’s strategy is to separate us from God who is the only One who can enable us to experience true freedom. Show yourself the same mercy that God has shown you.


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