21Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.” —Matthew 18:21-22
Ask yourself the question, “What do families need most? What can allow us to go forward no matter where we are and become more of what God wants us to be and experience more of the joy He has for us?” That’s what we are going after. We are starting today at the first word. If you want to see God change your family, it has to start here: Word #1 is Forgiveness.
If you’ve been at this for a while you know forgiveness is easier to say than to accomplish. C. S. Lewis once commented that many people think forgiveness is a really great idea until they actually have to do it! I remind you as we explore the truth about forgiveness, we are not just a random cross-section of well-meaning people. We are the followers of Jesus Christ, and He has a lot to say about this matter of forgiveness as it affects families.
In Mark 11:25, Jesus said, “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” And in Luke 6:37, Jesus added these important words: “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Are we really ready for that? Are we really asking the Lord to forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others who sin against us? Because over and over the Scripture tells us that is how we are going to be forgiven. And somehow up in heaven God is keeping track of the way we forgive and the degree to which we forgive. That is the way we are going to be forgiven.
So, let’s be really clear about what we mean by forgiveness. Forgiveness is a decision to release a person from the obligation that resulted when they injured you. Families are forgiveness laboratories—no shortage on a daily basis of reasons to forgive. But will you? Are you forgiving? There’s no can’t; there’s only will or won’t. Ask yourself before God today: Lord, am I a consistent source of forgiveness in my family?
- When I do an inventory of forgiveness from me to each member of my family, what tender points of unforgiveness do I find?
- With God’s help, am I willing to forgive? If not, how do I expect God to forgive me?
Prayer – Almighty Father, forgiving is hard work! Resentment and holding on to unforgiveness seem to come so easily. Yet I know the cost is anger, disunity, and internal decay. How can I expect You to forgive me the immeasurable debt I owe if I’m unwilling to forgive the infinitely smaller debts to me? Father, help me to release the people I love through forgiveness because that’s what You have done for me! Thank You again for Your forgiveness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.