Someone wronged me recently. At first I wanted to strike back. It was a knee-jerk reaction to the hurt that someone could take advantage of me and not even care. The more I thought about it the worse I felt and I could not stop thinking about it. I thought I might settle the matter in court - and I knew I would win - but as I prepared to do so, my heart would pound and my anxiety rose. It did not feel good. I prayed that I would be able to just let it go. The answer came to me simply. Forgive.
"Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, now many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven." -Matthew 18:21-22There was a time that I actually added up seventy times seven (490) and thought I was done forgiving a particular person. I was wrong. I have learned to have a spirit of forgiveness even if it means forgiving that person everyday and even beforehand sometimes. Grace. Love. More Jesus.
When someone wrongs us, it is so human to want to strike back. Lewis Smedes says in his book, Forgive and Forget, "When you release the wrongdoer from the wrong, you cut a malignant tumor out of your inner life. You set a prisoner free, but you discover that the real prisoner was yourself."
What I have learned the most about forgiveness, and grace, is that in order to let go of the wrongs other people cause us, we need to look at the times we have wronged others. If we do not see our own shortcomings, the places where we have not been right, it is easier to point the finger and want to see someone pay for their mistakes.
Jesus didn't just say to forgive. He said to love. Love your enemies, drop your stones. If someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.
Who do you need to forgive today?
"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." - Jesus via Matthew 5:38-48