Daily Reading & Prayer

Matthew 18

June 20, 2024

Read: Matthew 18

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.’”


Unresolved conflicts, whether a minor disagreement with your spouse or longstanding resentment toward a family member or friend, can impact your physical health more than you might realize. The good news is that studies show forgiveness can significantly benefit your health. Forgiveness can lower the risk of heart attack, improve cholesterol levels, enhance sleep quality, and reduce pain, blood pressure, anxiety, depression, and stress. Research from John Hopkins in 2022 even indicates that the connection between forgiveness and health strengthens as you age.

It's clear: resentment and unforgiveness are detrimental to your health. But how do we forgive someone who has deeply hurt us? How do we move past lies, betrayal, and harsh words? When the debt they owe us feels insurmountable, is forgiveness even possible? Jesus' parable of the unmerciful servant offers guidance. The servant owed an impossible debt—equivalent to twenty years' wages. Without the king's forgiveness, his life would have been ruined. In this story, the king represents Jesus, and the debtor represents us. We owe an insurmountable debt to God because of our sins.

No matter the nature or extent of our sins, the penalty is death (Romans 6:23). But, like the unmerciful servant, we were forgiven. Our sins were erased, and our slates wiped clean. The appropriate response to such grace is to extend the same forgiveness to others. Jesus gives us a compelling reason to forgive: we have been shown mercy by God and are expected to show mercy in return. Forgiveness is letting it go, releasing them.

Forgiveness can be challenging. It doesn't require the other person to ask for forgiveness or even to change their behavior. Forgiveness is a decision we make for our well-being. It's not the same as reconciliation, which requires effort from both parties. Forgiveness requires only one participant. Holding on to hurt does little to the offender but keeps the pain fresh in our lives, poisoning our spirits and making us bitter. By forgiving, we release this burden and find peace and healing for ourselves.


The steps of forgiveness (Dr. Henry Cloud):

1) Acknowledge the wound.

2) Seek God’s healing.

3) Make the decision.

4) Let God’s forgiveness flow through you.

5) Keep walking.


Heavenly Father, I come to you and bring my brokenness and hurt, my unresolved conflict and my lingering resentment. I ask for your grace and strength to forgive those who have hurt me, just like you forgave me. Remind me that forgiveness is a decision I make for my healing and peace. May I find the courage to forgive, even when it’s hard, and trust that you will handle the rest. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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