“There are not many things that we all have in common, but I can tell you one: we all have someone we need to forgive.” ~ Charles R. Swindoll
In the school of life, we must all take a forgiveness course. We can’t skip it because we all need to forgive someone or to see forgiveness from someone we’ve offended.
Our teacher is the world’s leading expert on forgiveness. No one has more experience in forgiving than Him. His exams can be tough when we’re asked to put into practice what we’ve learned. However, when we pass the test, the feeling of relief that follows is healing to the soul.
Let’s join our teacher Jesus on the hillside by the Sea of Galilee where He is starting His first lecture on the topic of seeking forgiveness.
“So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.” (Matthew 5:23–24)
Friction between individuals may smoulder as resentment or flame up as anger, spark as name-calling or ignite as out-of-control rage. Regardless the degree of heat, Jesus said the fire must be doused immediately, both in our heart where sin begins and with our feet as we rush to make amends.
Jesus’ next lesson, offering forgiveness, is prompted by Peter’s question about the frequency of forgiving:
“Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” (Matthew 18:21)
Jesus’ answer shocked Peter, “‘No, not seven times,’ Jesus replied, ‘but seventy times seven!’” (18:22).
Peter viewed forgiveness through the narrow lens of human limitations. Figuring that our capacity to forgive runs out sooner or later, he sought permission to limit forgiving to no more than seven times.
If you need to reconcile a relationship, ask Jesus for the courage to seek forgiveness. Or if someone has injured you, ask the Lord for the grace to extend forgiveness.
“Looking Back: Finding Healing through Forgiveness with Cynthia Swindoll’s Testimony” is from Chuck Swindoll’s series Finding Healing through Forgiveness. You can stream this message online anytime at insightforliving.ca/audiolibrary.