By Richard Spangler
People ask, “How many times must I forgive this person?” Or, “I can’t forgive what they did to me.” And, “I want God to judge this person.” These same people have financial and other troubles, wondering why God is not blessing them. Some also have relationship issues with their family and others.
I have personally dealt with people that were hard to forgive. Once I was given the responsibility of running a shop and yard crew for the water department. I worked with men, most of whom were much older than myself.
There was this guy I will call Frank, who would ride my case from the time I walked in the gate until I left. Frank would curse constantly, put open men’s magazines on my desk, and relocate my Bible and my lunch.
There were times I felt like getting revenge on him, but I didn’t. I continued to pray for him, asking God to save him, and to help me forgive him. This situation continued for months.
Then one day, Frank came into my office. I feared the worse, but to my surprise, he broke down. Frank’s life was a mess and he needed someone to talk to. He asked me to forgive him. I told him I already had and was willing to listen and help.
After that, a good working relationship developed. Frank would still slip up with the language, but would quickly ask my forgiveness. This was my first lesson in forgiving someone who continually sinned against me, so I understand how difficult forgiving can be. The question arises, how much to forgive someone? We can thank the Apostle Peter for the answer.
“Then Peter came to Him and said, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times? Jesus said to him, I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21-22 NKJV).
If we analyze these figures, it is amazing. Jesus says to forgive 70 times 7, which is 490 times a day! Then when you divide 490 by 24 hours in a day it means 20.4 times an hour. Then you divide 60 minutes in hour by 20.4 and you get 2.9 minutes. So we are to forgive someone who sins against us every 2.9 minutes!
This is a lifestyle of forgiveness. It does not matter what someone does to you or how many times they may sin against you, you are to forgive. It is almost impossible for someone to reach this volume of sinning against another. If you’re counting, are you really forgiving?
But, what about if they are breaking the law, you may ask? If they break a law of man they still have to pay the consequences and if they haven’t accepted Jesus as their Savior and Lord, then they are under the judgment of God’s law, so we must leave the judging to Him.
Forgiveness is for you, not them. Unforgiveness blocks our relationship with God and leads to bitterness. Both unforgiveness and bitterness not only take their toll on you spiritually but also physically, opening the door to sickness and death. They also poison every relationship you have.
Unforgiveness also affects the blessings you receive from God.
“Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:32-38 NKJV).
What caught my attention is that most of this scripture deals with our relationship with others, then comes this one statement by Jesus on giving at the end. We are to love our enemies. We are to forgive unconditionally. We are to show mercy as God has shown mercy to us. Don’t condemn or judge and finally, forgive. Forgiveness jumps out as the key to the other blessings.
So forgive, for your own sake. Then, you will have an open, unhindered relationship with God and others. When you pray for the blessings of God, they will flow to you in a far greater way than you can imagine.
©COPYRIGHT 2012 RICHARD L SPANGLER
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