Forgiveness Without Limits !
By Rev. Robert A. Crutchfield
In baseball you only get three chances, three strikes as they are called and you are done at least for that inning. Many states have adopted this concept in passing so called “ three strikes” laws. Under these laws if you are convicted of three felonies you are sentenced to life in prison. We have all had people in our lives who have hurt us and we forgive them, and then they hurt us again, and we forgive them again. In order for this to not become a dangerous situation it must be a two sided relationship. We should forgive, as God forgives us. We must remember that although God will always forgives us, he will do so only when we truly repent for what we have done. Repentance is more than being sorry for our actions. It is a commitment to make actual changes in our lives.
It is the same with our relationship to each other. We should forgive others as God would forgive us. However we also have to protect ourselves. Forgiveness is hard, especially when it is not the first time. This is why God values the forgiveness we show others so highly.
How many times should we forgive ?
In Matthew 18:21-22 we find Christ’s answer, “ Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” Now Christ did not literally mean 490 times. He was exaggerating to make a point. In biblical numerology seven is the number of perfection and completion. So anything done seven times must be complete, you must be done right ? People in the first century certainly would have though so. Christ in giving them a very high number, that was a multiple of seven was saying that we should forgive limitless number of times.
But how are we to forgive so many times ? Forgiving the second or third time is already so very hard.
The most powerful way to start is to pray for those whom we need to forgive. Consider the words of Matthew 5:44 “ But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” Frank Shelton of Fox News, Author of Carrying Greatness, and Host of By Faith with Frank Shelton had this to say about praying for our enemies, “ You cannot destroy someone, and pray for them at the same time.” In praying for them we actually allow God to change our heart toward the person we are needing to forgive.
Our forgiveness should not have limits. However it is only with the guidance and support of God himself that we can hope to accomplish this.