Forgiveness? That’s a hard one! People crossing lines to cause deliberate harm? That is hard to forgive. Usually, people find it easiest just to log-it-in as a personal and wilful sin and wait it out. Many ‘Offense lists’ abide in many hearts awaiting apology or restitution. The devil loves these lists. He will justify, intensify, and satisfy any cravings you have to ‘right those wrongs.’ Believe it or not, an army of people are not waking up every morning wanting to make your life miserable. There may be one or two, so that calls for the wisdom of perspective. When daily trials become grist for the mill of unhappiness, life can only get worse. Everyone becomes either friend or foe. Friends help me, foes hinder me. Soon, there is no potential for a Christlike heart to grow. Bitterness and loneliness is guaranteed. Inevitably, your friends are going to cross those lines, and only those who will tolerate you for their own ends will have anything to do with you.
Peter had learned enough from Jesus to know that one must forgive or expect no forgiveness (Mt.6:15). Applying logic to this he later asks Jesus, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” (Mt.18:21). A pretty generous ‘doormat,’ by anyone’s standard. Jesus demands that our generosity be pushed to the seemingly impossibility. Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven” (Mt.18:22). Jesus followed with a story to illustrate the difference between us and God when practicing forgiveness. The slave who was forgiven the unbelievably huge debt by the king went out to forcibly extract payment of a comparatively small debt from another slave. The king’s wrath came upon him because he did not share the blessing of compassion. (Mt.18:23-34). So, Jesus warns us: “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart” (Mt.18:35). Forgiveness is the shared fruit of the Christian’s thankfulness.