Give me a second chance! Thatís what I remember hearing as I walked away so many years ago. I ended up walking about 7 miles home that day, full of myself, full of pride, and wondering why she thought she deserved another chance when I had already given her so many. Donít get me wrong, things happen for a reason, and she was not the one whom God had planned for me to be with the rest of my life; however, it doesnít take away the sound of the plea, and my unwillingness to forgive so many years ago. In fact, it wasnít until a few years ago that we both came to terms with that event, and I was able to say I was sorry as well. It was a conviction on my heart. Why?
Over the course of our life, we will be hurt by, or felt like we have been done wrong by, many people, many times. Itís part of life, but how we handle that, determines the maturity of our walk with Christ. Forgiveness is one of the things we so easily mis-handle. We want it, and ask for it a lot more often than we seem to give it out. You see, we have this meter in our heads that we gauge how many times we should forgive someone, and it also gauges the severity of the issue to see if we even need to forgive someone the very first time it happens. Fact is, we donít feel we need to be on that meter, but whatís fair?
Jesus was asked a question once on how many times we should forgive. This is how that went:
21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
If you realized that 70 times 7 is 490, and youíve got someone on your list thatís at 489; donít be so ready to kick them through the goal post of life, you arenít even close to being done. The point of the teaching Jesus gave is that we should be willing to forgive every time, and if so, we wonít be hung up on how many times we have forgiven. Understand, you can forgive someone without putting yourself into a situation where you put yourself at risk. We have seen many cases where the family of a murder victim has forgiven the culprit, but they also didnít start hanging out together either. See the difference?
2nd Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
We are a new creation when we are saved. Learning to grow in mercy and grace shows evidence of this change. The old man had the characteristics of unforgiveness; we arenít supposed to have that anymore. The hardest thing to carry is a grudge, and if you are holding back forgiveness, then you are holding a grudge!
Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
Be quick about forgiving someone. When the shoe is on the other foot, you want it fast. When you ask God for forgiveness, you expect it, no matter what you have done, or how many times. How do you expect to get mercy and grace if you arenít willing to give it out yourself? How can you be a light in the world for Jesus, if you arenít willing to do all that is asked?
12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
So many times I hear people say things like, ďHe did something completely unforgivable. I canít ever forgive him for that.Ē Well, Jesus said that there is only one unforgivable sin, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which is rejection of the Gospel. If He can forgive every other sin, what gives us the right not to? What makes us think someone elseís sin is any worse than our own? We gauge sin and think our little white lie is better than someone murdering; but doesnít the same Jesus that forgives you for lying, also forgive the murderer? And chances are, you lie more than someone else murders. What if Jesus decided what you did was just too much and stopped forgiving? But He doesnít, and Heís got the right to. You donít have the right so you better not stop either. Remember, we ALL have received countless second chances at the Cross of Jesus.
In His Grace,
Mike Harris Jr.
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