Matthew 18:21-22 "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.’"
The biggest lie we believe when it comes to forgiveness is the "one and done" theory. The idea that forgiveness is a substantial one-time event that negates anything in the past. But really, forgiveness is a flow, a lifestyle. Forgiveness is a process of extending grace one moment at a time.
It is reasonable to hurt when someone wrongs you, whether it is something someone said or something they did. By definition, an act of injustice is not fair, and our response is to "level the playing field." We want people to get what they deserve. But as believers in Christ, we are called to forgive.
Peter, in Matthew 18, wants to know how many times. When can we say, “That's it!”? Jesus answered, “Seventy seven." In other words, decide to forgive continually; break down the one-time events into smaller pieces and extend grace. Start small and forgive. If someone is rude, take a deep breath and smile. When someone is selfish, be kind in return. Practice letting go. When we make forgiveness a habit, we strengthen that muscle and we can work our way into the deep tissue of “unforgivable” issues, where we thought we'd never venture.
Today, start small. Maybe someone cut you off on your way to work, be kind. Practice forgiveness. Is there someone you need to extend grace to today?
Father, help me extend grace as you forgave me. Teach me how to lay down my rights. Equip me with a supernatural ability to forgive others who have hurt me. Amen.