Forgive as Often as You Want to Be Forgiven
Repeated, or what seem to be habitual, offenses by others present an even greater challenge to forgive. Peter, the disciple, asked Jesus about this problem. The answer Jesus gave is recorded in Matthew 18:21-22.
Matthew 18:21-22 NIV
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.[a]
This answer basically says to forgive as often as you are offended. From previous scriptures we have studied, we are to forgive as many times as we want to be forgiven.
Jesus continues teaching on this subject in Matthew 18:23-35. In the parable of the servant who owed a huge debt, 10,000 talents, approximately $10,000,000.00, the king forgives that debt and lets the servant go free. That same servant is owed approximately $20.00 from another servant, and he has the man thrown into prison because he could not repay the money. When the king found out about this action, he called the servant who had been forgiven the huge debt to him.
Matthew 18:32-35 NIV
32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
These scriptures show the seriousness of not forgiving others. Torment and demonic oppression will be realities in your life until you release the person(s) who have offended you and you choose to forgive them.
Unforgiveness may result in you having a lack of passion for God and His ways. You may experience a lack of spiritual growth and maturity. None of these conditions are beneficial to you.
Maintain a Right Attitude Toward Others
How can you possibly maintain a right attitude toward others who you know are watching you and who are just waiting for you to make a mistake? In the Hebrew language the word for “enemy” means “an observer”, one who is critically watching.
We are told in the Bible that offenses will come. Therefore, every morning when you pray make a decision that whatever offenses come today, you set your heart to respond in a loving way, to release the person, and forgive them.
Suggested Prayer: This confession can be a part of your daily prayer. “Lord, I set my heart to forgive anyone who offends me today. I choose now to forgive them.”
When we read verses like Matthew 5:44, we wonder how we can ever be obedient to what we are told to do. Remember, it is with the help of Holy Spirit and receiving God’s grace that we can do what seems impossible in the natural.
Matthew 5:44 NIV
44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
In the book of Romans, written by the Apostle Paul, there is a passage that addresses the problem of forgiving those who do harm to you. I am printing more than one version of these scriptures to expand your understanding.
Romans 12:17-20 NIV
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[a] says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[b]
Footnotes: Romans 12:20 This may refer to an ancient Egyptian custom in which a penitent person carried a bowl of burning embers on his head to show his shame and guilt. By analogy, being kind to an enemy may lead him to shame and repentance.
Romans 12:17-20 Living Bible
17 Never pay back evil for evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honest clear through. 18 Don’t quarrel with anyone. Be at peace with everyone, just as much as possible.
19 Dear friends, never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God, for he has said that he will repay those who deserve it. Don’t take the law into your own hands.[a] 20 Instead, feed your enemy if he is hungry. If he is thirsty give him something to drink and you will be “heaping coals of fire on his head.” In other words, he will feel ashamed of himself for what he has done to you.
Suggested Prayer: Father in obedience to your Word, I ask you to bless ____. I ask you to give me a love for them. I pray you will draw them to yourself and help them fulfill the plan you have for their lives.
Share the Message of Reconciliation and Restoration
All that Jesus did in His death on the cross, His burial, and resurrection was about forgiveness and reconciling mankind back to God. We have received forgiveness and acceptability to God, and now we share that message with others.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19 NIV
18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
We all need God’s forgiveness.
Because we have received forgiveness, we can forgive others.
Forgiving others is a choice, an act of our free will.
Holy Spirit will be our Helper when we are faced with forgiving another person and can not do it in our own power.
When we walk in forgiveness, we have peace with God, and He works on our behalf.
Let God be your defense and your avenger.
Be a person who brings others to a knowledge of how they can be forgiven and reconciled to God.
Assurances of God’s Desire to Forgive
Psalm 103:12 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition
12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Isaiah 43:25 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition
25 I, even I, am He Who blots out and cancels your transgressions, for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins.
Isaiah 54:9-10 New Century Version
9 The Lord says, “This day is like the time of Noah to me.
I promised then that I would never flood the world again.
In the same way, I promise I will not be angry with you
or punish you again.
10 The mountains may disappear,
and the hills may come to an end,
but my love will never disappear;
my promise of peace will not come to an end,”
says the Lord who shows mercy to you.
John 3:16-17 NIV
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
2 Peter 3:9 New Century Version
9 The Lord is not slow in doing what he promised—the way some people understand slowness. But God is being patient with you. He does not want anyone to be lost, but he wants all people to change their hearts and lives.
2 Peter 3:9 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition
9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.