a question was proposed during a discussion about forgiveness a week or so ago with dear friends as we gathered for bible study. “how many times are we called to forgive someone?” my friend referenced Matthew 18:21-22 as she began to share some more.
as my friend spoke and shared her own struggles with forgiving a betrayal of any kind she said this verse struck her for the first time as, “…what if that verse means we are to forgive every time the hurt from what happened rears it ugly head or the consequences of the sin are affecting my life again today?” it was like watching all the pieces to machine with gears all line up and begin working in my heart as she said it. i have told my husband, and meant it when i did, that i forgive him for what happened. i did not absolve him from the consequences of what his choices have lead to or the journey we now take to heal and move on but i do forgive him.
it was a HUGE revelation.
we are not called to judge or jury any sins on this earth. we are not equipped to offer such wisdom, and thank goodness. i don’t want that job. we are told instead to live out the gospel and offer forgiveness. does that mean i am to become a punching bag or just take being hurt, mistreated or betrayed, no. but is does mean that i am to offer forgiveness and make my offering of that forgiveness create change in my heart and state of being. even if that means i have to forgive over and over again to offer love and respect that day or even moment to moment.
some may view this as a passive way to live or think this means i don’t stand up for myself or how i should be treated. but i will respectfully disagree. by offering forgiveness and relying on that to change my actions and reactions that does not mean i won’t hold the sin or sinner to accountability. it does mean i will not punish or seek to revenge a wrong done to me. when anyone looks back at how i treated anyone i do not ever want them to have just cause to say i was not acting in accordance to my faith. even with my husband and the most tragic hurt i have faced in my brief 40+ years of life. i do not want to be anything less than a representation of a christian walking the walk of faith.
so today when a trigger tries to steal a joy from what i know to be true i will offer forgiveness. when a consequence of someone else’s sin impedes my plan for the day, i will reach for forgiveness. when anger or frustration try to cloud all the good we have in our marriage today i will seek to offer forgiveness. when the pain and hurt of the betrayal grab hold of my thoughts i will draw my thoughts toward forgiveness and react not on my own strength.
i am so grateful my friend shared what she did. it was a life changer. behind my choice to live out 70×7 and the verse in Matthew 18 is a woman living each day the best way she can. i will fall. i will fail. but i will not let the bad things that happen or the hurt that they cause take away from my desire to be a Christian first and foremost. and i can’t think of a better place to start than the most sacred relationship i have on this earth that with my husband.