Last week I was called upon to administer the fatherly duty of correcting and training one of my sons, Andrew. I know it’s hard to believe that one of my children would ever step out of line, but on this occasion he was especially out of sorts. After diligently explaining his offense I told him, as part of his consequence, he would have to accompany me to the grocery store- an errand none of my children can fully appreciate. As we walked through the store I couldn’t help but notice how sad and forlorn he appeared. He was visibly slumped with a fat bottom lip and I think other customers may have noticed my walking around with a sad child. If only they knew… Andrew has enormous eyes that can strike you with elation when he’s inspired, or cut you right to the heart if he’s needy- or being manipulative. As it turns out, he was neither on this day.
As we exited the store I asked him if he was sad. “I guess”, he said. I asked him if he was sad because he was in trouble, or if he was sad about the way he had treated his mommy. He said it was the way he treated his mommy. So I told him that likely mom had already forgiven him, but that if he wanted to know for sure, all he had to do was ask her if she would forgive him. As soon as we got home the first thing he did was hug his mommy and apologize. Ahh, all is well with the world again. Hugs all around.
Simon Peter once asked Jesus how many times he should forgive someone who had offended him. He asked, “Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!” I was asked recently if I had forgiven someone who had hurt me. My answer was yes, many times, and many times for the same offense. I imagine for most of us that when someone says something, or does something, or offends us in some way that likely we’re over-sensitive. Maybe you, but not me. True as that may be, there are times when people hurt us deeply and we find it hard to come to a place where we can forgive. As a person, harboring unforgiveness is an extremely unhealthy posture, but as a Christian this is not an option. We are called as disciples of Jesus to forgive, even as we have been forgiven. If the wound is deep it doesn’t go away easily even in light of forgiveness. We must remember that forgiveness isn’t an event, it’s a practice. Peter thought of it as an event but Jesus taught it as a practice. Every time a past offense raises its ugly little head we cannot water the seeds of bitterness, we must root them out with this gracious tool of forgiveness. Every time- seventy times seven times.
While some relationships may not need to be restored, nor should some of them- even in light of forgiveness, it is so sweet when it can happen. Like my son Andrew who was sad at his actions, even knowing the truth of his mother’s forgiveness wasn’t quite enough for him. He needed to hear it, to embrace the one he had offended. He needed reconciliation. Do you have people in your life with whom you need to be reconciled? Are there folks that earnestly desire to be reconciled with you? Again, I don’t advocate reconciling abusive or unhealthy relationships, but I know there are people who are only separated from each other because of pride, or unease, or lack of knowledge that can and should be brought together again in forgiveness. Could it be that you need to be reconciled with Jesus? Have you been too long walking with the knowledge of His forgiveness, yet lacking the reconciled relationship with Him? The Bible says, “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call on Him while He is near”. Get alone with God and draw near to Him. He will draw near to you. Confess your sins to Him for He is faithful to forgive and to cleanse us of all our unrighteousness. In Jesus Christ you are forgiven and accepted!