Forgive Seventy Times Seven
As we grow in Christ we learn how to make decisions based on His Spirit and His Truth. If we stick to what He teaches, we have a much better chance of living in peace and contentment and this includes forgiving seventy times seven.
Matt 18:21-22 Then, Peter came up to Him and said, Lord, how many times may my brother sin against me and I forgive him and let it go? [As many as] up to seven times? Jesus answered him, I tell you, not up to seven times, but seventy times seven!
So, if you are molested or raped or beaten, are you supposed to forgive the one who inflicted such pain? Absolutely. How can that be? Why should I forgive someone who grabs me and wants to hurt me? Again, it is not easy, but it is definitely possible, because God never asks something of us that is impossible. If we make decisions based on how we think or what we see or how we feel, then we will surely never forgive a living soul. I can honestly say that I had no desire to forgive the person who grabbed me when I was a young girl with the intent to molest. In my flesh I can say that I really did not have to forgive my sister for the abuse she sent my way, because I was the victim.Yet what is it God says – but forgive seventy times seven.
Pain to Rejection to Isolation
However, enter the Word of God and a living relationship with Jesus. We can choose to make decisions based on God’s character and His Word instead of our feelings, and we can literally be healed of the pain caused us. Why? Because the Word of God is true, no matter what we think, see, feel or experience. If we choose God’s way and God’s Word as our standard, then we will find ourselves restored and made well according to His Truth. But, if we choose to harden our hearts and refuse to forgive those who have trespassed against us, then the Word of God says He does not have to forgive us! Oh the tragedy to live without the grace of God to surround us. Without His grace and His forgiveness, then we face the consequences of our own self-imposed protection, which can include anything from shame, embarrassment and pain to rejection and isolation. All these roads lead to one thing – a bitter and resentful heart. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live out my days with bitterness in my heart. I don’t want to be critical and negative all the time. Wouldn’t you agree that sometimes that attitude can creep in, if we don’t respond to God, ourselves, and others in the right way? What do I mean by the right way? I mean the biblical way. If someone hurts you, what does the Bible say to do? It says forgive. If that person hurts you again and again and again, what does the Bible say to do again and again and again? It says to forgive. Granted, you might not be able to trust someone who makes a habit out of hurting you, however, you can and you must forgive. That is the only way to real contentment and peace.
A long time ago, I met a young woman who seemed lonely and in need of a friend. She was very gifted in the area of music, and we both enjoyed worship and seemed to have a lot in common. I began to go over to her house and spend time with her. We would meet at the church, she would play the piano, and we would sing together and have fun. I never really asked the Lord if I should be her friend. I did not seek His guidance or wisdom in this relationship. I should have done so, for it would have saved me a lot of pain. Little by little, I became uncomfortable around her. For no apparent reason, I wanted to say no to going over to her house and for meeting her at church. It was strange, and I had no idea why it was happening. Still, I did not ask the Lord. Out of the blue one day, she asked me what I thought about our starting a worship time at the church and again I did not ask the Lord. We planned what we would do and how often we would meet and we were excited about the opportunity. We decided we would use the sanctuary. At that time, several of us used the church to worship, to praise, to dance, all on other times other than Sundays. Well, interestingly, I felt that thing in my spirit that I now know as a warning, and FINALLY I asked the Lord what He thought about time with this new friend. I definitely heard Him tell me no. Now I was in a definite pickle. My word was my bond, and I had made a commitment to meet with her and “do this thing,” and now God was telling me no. What was I going to do? I asked the Lord for confirmation. I had been a member for a few years and had frequently asked for a key to the sanctuary to go in and worship or pray and had never been turned down. If He really was against it, I wanted the church to refuse my request for a key and they did. YES! That was the confirmation I needed to “excuse myself” out of this “commitment.” I called the woman I was supposed to do worship with at the church and told her the church’s decision to “not let us have the key.” She was furious with me. How dare I make a commitment I was unable to keep she said! She began to berate me and tell me what a loser I was and what a horrible person I was and how I should be ashamed of myself. I explained to her that I had peace about the decision the church had made. She was not happy and went about telling all sorts of lies about me to reduce my credibility with people in authority, as well as friends. I wanted desperately to defend myself, but the Lord was very clear and told me not to say a word in my own defense. HE told me that His character within me would be able to stand the taunts, and in time, people would know the Truth. I had already learned my lesson about not obeying and did what He told me. It took a couple of years for my name to be cleared, but it was and it happened just as He said-by my keeping my mouth shut. I chose to not say anything negative about her when I was told what she said about me. Little by little, people noticed she was critical and negative and bitter against me, and I was nothing like she said I was. In other words, God redeemed me in His own way and in His own time.
What are you going through right now? Are you in a difficult season? Has someone betrayed you? Has someone broken your heart? Have you been abused? Have you been talked about in a negative way? Have you lost a loved one in a car accident or through sickness or disease? Has someone died? Whatever you are going through, God is faithful, and it is His will that you understand His Word to you.
In Hebrews 13:5, God tells all His sons and daughters – I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree, leave you helpless nor forsake nor let you down or relax My hold on you. Assuredly not! So, you my daughter can take comfort and be encouraged and confidently and boldly know that I am the Lord and I am your Helper – do not be seized with alarm – do not fear or dread or be terrified! (AMP)
The truth is that many times it seems we have either taken a wrong road or we’ve been made out to be a target for an enemy, and we just don’t know what to do or where to turn for help. Desperate, we look into ourselves and cry out for answers, yet do any of us really hold the key? No. We must turn to our God, the Faithful One, Who knows all and can walk with us through the darkest storm and the deepest valley. So, when I think on His Word to me, I will not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake you nor let you down nor relax My hold on you, I take a deep breath and thank Him. This verse was life to me many times when I felt as if everyone I knew had turned his or her back on me. It was something that helped me hold onto God when I felt like He had lost His grip on my life. It made me think on Him and His Word of Truth versus what I felt like. Yes, sometimes it is even as if He Himself has walked out on me. However, the Truth is that He has not and never will. Instead of spending time chewing on my feelings and letting my emotions take me into depression, I now choose to think on Him and if someone has walked all over me, I run to forgive seventy time seven.
My paraphrase of Isaiah 26:3-4 God will guard you and me, and God will keep you and me in perfect and constant peace when both our inclinations and our character is focused on Him, because we (you and me) commit ourselves to God, we lean on God and we hope confidently in God. So, we (you and me) will trust in the Lord, we will commit ourselves to Him, we will lean on Him, we will hope confidently in Him forever for He is our Rock and our Lord and our God!
Oh, the needless pain we go through at times, because of the time we spend thinking about things that are not of Him, and the trouble our mind gets into because of it. When pain comes our way, we must have a plan. That plan must be true to His word, or we will be continually hurt and will continually feel worthless about others and ourselves. So, what is the plan? When things begin to go wrong, when life takes a turn in the road, you and I must decide now to THINK ABOUT HIM, so that we can stayIt is all about our response. Another scripture that comes to mind that helps us to remain in peace during each season of life is in Philippians.
Philippians 4:6-7 Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition – definite requests – with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God and God’s peace shall be yours – that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever worth that is, that peace which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
So, what are His instructions in the seasons of life? Don’t fret about it and don’t have anxiety through it, but give it to Him with thanksgiving. His peace, the kind of peace that bypasses our understanding and guards our hearts and minds, will overshadow your pain. The kingdom of life is completely opposite from the kingdom of self and darkness. The world will tell you to concentrate on your woes and spend some good quality time with yourself and take a vacation to “forget it all.” It will tell you to read a self-help book and give yourself to working out your difficulty or get completely out and run from your circumstances. However, God, in His wisdom, says not to concentrate on your woes, but concentrate on Him. He tells us not to spend time with ourselves, but to spend time with Him. God says instead of running from your circumstances, let Him strengthen you and change you and empower you through your circumstances. God says don’t let your circumstances control your behavior – give your behavior to Me and let Me govern and guide your actions, so that You are pleasing to Me and I will lead you into forgiving seventy times seven.
How do you respond when pain comes your way? Do you lean into God or do you turn your back on the pain and hope it will just go away? Or do you defend yourself instead of trusting God to defend you Himself?
Pray With Me
Lord Jesus, I admit that sometimes I just turn my back on pain and sorrow, and I ignore it hoping maybe it will go away. I also admit that I do not always look to You for comfort, advice or wisdom when things occur in life that I do not understand. I want to change. I want to forgive seventy times seven. Please help me. I want to lean into You, trust in You and hope in You. Teach me how, and I’ll adhere to Your Way. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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Until next time,