“How often should I forgive? As many as seven times?”
Jesus answered Peter, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.”
When we were in primary school we were taught that verbs are doing words. Forgiveness is very much a verb, forgiveness requires actions
Forgiveness, for Jesus, is not something to be measured. It is a quality; a way of being, a way of living, a way of loving, a way of relating, a way of thinking and seeing.
When we look at it like that it is nothing less than the way of Christ. So if we are to follow Christ then it must become our way as well. “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.
Does that mean the murderer? The cheating partner? The underhand businessman? The racist? . The rapist? The bully? . The abuser? the terrorist?…. Yes, yes it does
I would imagine every one hearing this today would be in favour of forgiveness, at least they would be in principle and I think that C S Lewis sums it up very well for us in his book Mere Christianity page 115 when he writes “Every one, says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until there is something to forgive” How very true indeed because the act of forgiveness can be a long , difficult and painful road to travel.
So what is it that we do ? What do we do when there is something to forgive?
Some people will look for revenge. Some will just turn and run away from life and relationships. Some will let the pain destroy them. I don’t say that out of criticism or judgment because I know how hard forgiveness can be. We all struggle with it and we often avoid it. I know because I have been there but I am also fully aware that none of those answers are the way of Christ. All of these ways will simply leave us stuck in the past, tied to the evil of another, and empty and distant from the future that God wants to give us.
Forgiveness is the only way forward.
That does not mean we forget, condone, or approve of what was done.
It does not mean we ignore or excuse cruelty or injustice.