This devotional was written by Mike DeVries Then, Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how 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-seven times."—Matthew 18:21-22
One summer, our family spent two weeks together on vacation. Now like all vacations, there were moments of joy filled with laughter and connection - memories that we will never forget.
Then there were other times...
Perhaps you know these kinds of time. Perhaps you've experienced them. Interrupted by family conflict, a moment of bliss has somehow veered off-course, causing a detour down the road of misery.
During our vacation, patterns began to emerge with my kids. One minute there would be peace and tranquility. Then someone did something to someone else and now that wronged someone else sought out the parental high court to find justice and punishment against the perpetrator.
Once we had restored order, and worked through the issue at hand, we would come to some form of resolution. Apologies were offered. Hugs were given (sometimes begrudgingly). And then it was over.
It was then that it hit me. It really was over... done... forgotten.
Children have this amazing ability to feel deeply wronged, work through the issue, forgive and then, most importantly, actually forget. In other words, they have the ability to forgive and forget - to literally move on as if it never happened.
Central to the kingdom life that Jesus invites us into is this ability to truly forgive and move on. Like children, Jesus reminds us that if we cannot live this way - truly forgiving and moving on - we will never fully enter this kingdom kind of life.
More often, we are like Jesus' follower Peter, who in today's Scripture asked Jesus about forgiveness. Can you sense the emotion behind Peter's question? Lord, I'm so tired of dealing with this. I'm so tired of dealing with this person. When can I stop and finally hold it against him?
Jesus' answer is simply stunning. Now what Jesus is not doing is merely expanding the limit of forgiveness. He wasn't saying that on the seventy-eighth offense you can hold a grudge. In Jesus' day, the number seven was symbolic for perfection. Seventy-seven was His way of communicating an image of limitless forgiveness.
Jesus calls us to forgive and move on every time. When we don't forgive, who is really enslaved, the person who has done the wrong or ourselves? If you truly want to experience the freedom of the kingdom kind of life - a childlike forgiveness is essential.
When we forgive - truly forgive - we deeply own what happened. We agree that it hurt. We choose to forgive, to let go and not carry it around. We never allow it back into the conversation with that person. It's as if it never happened.
Forgive. Move on. Be free.
Is there anyone you need to forgive, truly forgive, and then move on? What will you do about it today?
Luke 17:3-5, Psalm 103:8-12, Colossians 3:13