Saturday, September 15, 2012

How Many Times Should I Forgive?

Has one of your friends or someone in your family done something that hurt you? Really hurt you? Does it seem like it's impossible to look at that person or talk to him? Do think you could be friends again? Do you know what to do? Peter asked Jesus this question. Check this out from Matthew 18:21:

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Jesus answered, I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times."

Do you think Peter counted all the times someone did him wrong so he could find justification at seventy-seven times? I don't think so. I think forgiveness became a lifestyle and it must be our lifestyle too. Jesus died so we could be forgiven. If you have known forgiveness, you will want others to know it too.

We can say out loud that we forgive, but what is happening in our hearts? Here are seven ways to forgive from your heart:
  1. Choose not to tell anyone how your friend hurt you. This is hard. Can you trust one person who will encourage you whom you know will not tell anyone? Ask God to help you.
  2. Be pleasant around the person who hurt you.
  3. If you talk to the person, do all you can to free him from guilt. Jesus said in Luke 6:31, "Do to others as you would have them do to you."
  4. Do not remind them how much they hurt you. Once you have forgiven, you must behave as though you don't think your friend did anything wrong.
  5. Encourage your friend by showing compassion.
  6. Some days might be easier than other days to forgive. Keep forgiving. It's not easy, but God is with you to help you.
  7. Pray for the one who hurt you. Jesus said, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you," Matthew 5:44. This doesn't mean, "Oh God, please deal with my friend and the pain he caused me." It means, "I pray for my friend, that You would give him peace, that he would know Your forgiveness and love."
"Forgiveness" is not a popular word in the world today. It wasn't popular when Jesus walked this earth either. That's why He came--to show us how to live, love and forgive. Without God's love, "forgiveness" is just another word.

Think About It
When we truly forgive those who hurt us, we act as Jesus would. That's how people will desire to know and love Him. Is there someone you need to forgive? Choose today to take these steps to show them Jesus' love.

Pray About It
Lord Jesus, I am sorry for my thoughts about my friend. I choose today to forgive, and I need your help to make it real and lasting. Amen.

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