“At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, ‘Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?’ Jesus replied, ‘Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.’” (Matthew 18:21-22 MSG)
The book of Job tells how Job's friends hurt him tremendously. They betrayed him, were disloyal, criticized him, misunderstood him. Nothing hurts more than being misunderstood or falsely accused. And it wasn't even Job's fault! He was innocent. He had every right to be resentful.
But God did a 180 in Job's life — not after Job had retaliated or grown resentful. God worked in Job’s life after Job released his offenders and forgave them. The Bible says he not only let them go, but he also prayed for them (Job 42:10).
Why is it important to release your offenders? Because we become what we focus on. “I’m not going to be resentful!” What are you focusing on? Resentment. “I’m never going to be like my mom.” If you don't release them, you're going to start to resemble those who have hurt you. It's a fact of life.
Bitterness in your heart does very strange things to your personality. We're not meant to walk around carrying grudges. It takes a toll on our life.
How often do you have to forgive someone? Peter asked Jesus this question, and Jesus responded “seventy times seven” — that’s 490 times!
Do you store up ammunition in your marriage? Love keeps no record. Forgiveness must be continual. Every time you remember someone’s sin against you, you forgive him again until you know that you’ve released him.
How do you know when you’ve fully released that person? It doesn't hurt anymore. You can pray for their success. You can feel comfortable in their presence. You can empathize.
I don't know that I ever feel like forgiving anybody. But I do it, not because I feel like it, but because God tells me to, and because forgiveness gives me the freedom to live the full life God intended for me.
Talk About It
Who has more resources at his disposal, you or God? Who can do a better job at evening things out, you or God? While you're waiting on God to even the score and dispense justice, you have to forgive so you can get on with living.
Who do you need to forgive?
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller "The Purpose Driven Life." His book, "The Purpose Driven Church," was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also the founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.
This devotional ©2012 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.