With Easter approaching, our thoughts turn to Jesus’ sacrifice, and the lengths God was willing to go to in order to redeem His fallen people. Fittingly for the beginnings of Spring, Easter is a time of death and reincarnation — and forgiveness. Jesus’ blood bridged the gap between us and God to allow us to accept God’s grace.
Forgiveness is something we all need. And not just between ourselves and God, but between each other. However, rarely is this an easy task. Perhaps that’s why we struggle at times time to believe God can forgive us so easily. Humans like to hold onto their guilt, just as much as they cling to their hurt.
“Then 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
When we read these verses, we often take them to mean Jesus was saying we should always forgive, no matter how often someone wrongs us. And while that’s true, I’ve come to see over the years that it can mean something more. What if Jesus was also warning us that, for sinful man, forgiveness is never a one-and-done act in our hearts?
We hear “forgive and forget,” all the time, but do we really? I know I certainly don’t. Even if I forgive someone, that doesn’t completely remove the sting of that betrayal. That memory can still come back, every bit as painful as the first time. And Jesus, in His infinite wisdom, tells us to renew our forgiveness for that hurt every time it rears its head. We must say to ourselves, “I forgive you,” and lay it at Jesus’ feet, where He can salve our hearts and souls in a way no apology can. Seventy times seven. As often as we need it.
This is a lesson I’ve been learning for years. And while I can say I was well within my rights to hold onto my hurt, what good would that do me? None. Nothing but anger and bitterness. But after years of having to continually lay that pain at God’s feet, to say “I forgive you”, even though they never asked for it, I am at peace. And while I grieve what our relationship might have been without that hurt, I can look back without bitterness.
LAY IT ALL AT HIS FEET
Every mental shackle works the same. Maybe it’s not forgiveness you struggle with. Anxiety? Fear? Worry? Lust? Guilt? Greed? Every time those thoughts cross your mind, lay them at God’s feet. Offer it to the one whose grace is eternal. Who can wipe the slate clean every single time. Seventy times seven. God’s perfect love.