Forgiveness Takes Great Humility
“Then Peter came to him and said, ‘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.'” Matthew 18:21-22 Has there been someone in your life who has hurt or offended you over and over and over again? If so, you’ve long since gotten tired of forgiving him/her. You say to yourself, “this is going to go on forever, do I need to forgive forever?” Yes you do …but let’s look at forgiveness. When a problem lies with the person offending, there’s nothing you can do to change that person. Let them go. Let them go to be who they are. Just accept them as they are, not who you would like them to be. Let them abide in their own mindset, that is the way they are and they can't change that. Don’t make it your problem. Let’s say someone steals from you. The person has a problem, a weakness, a sin, and that makes up that person’s life. You can't change them, so let them abide in their condition. If you understand that you cannot change them, don’t let it be YOUR problem. It’s between them and God. Leave it there. The secret is in not allowing the sinful nature of someone else to become YOUR problem. Your demands and pleadings will change nothing, because they are not able to change themselves any more than you are able to change yourself. Oh, you might say, they have a huge problem, mine isn’t so big. That’s not the point. The point is that we are all living in a fallen human nature, and that means we all have weaknesses and there’s no way for us to change that in ourselves. So if you can’t change yourself, how can you demand that someone else must change? Let them be who they are, warts and all. It’s not your place to try to change them, you couldn't do it anyway. The one and only thing you CAN do is to intercede for them in prayer and fasting. But many times while you’re interceding for someone else, the Lord will point out something in yourself that needs to be changed. That keeps us humble. There is another element in the process of forgiveness that many overlook, and that is that we have an enemy. Not a person, this is an enemy who lost his place in heaven and is consumed with hatred for God and for all that God loves. If a person is born-again, that person becomes hated by Satan, and Satan is clever in how he orchestrates attacks against them. He knows your weaknesses and that’s where he will attack, determined to bring you down. He’ll strike out at you through family, through loved ones, through anyone and everyone he can use to hurt you. Recognize him as the source. The ones he chooses to hurt you are only his puppets. Once you thoroughly understand this, and it is CRUCIAL that you understand it, then when someone says or does something hurtful to you, you’ll recognize it as an aggression of Satan himself against you, not the person that he uses. How can you hate a weak person for something that Satan himself caused to say or do something to hurt you? It’s not the person, they’re just weak enough to be an easy tool for Satan to use against you. KNOW your enemy. Never hate a person for what Satan has used them for against you. Jacob’s son Joseph was hated by his brothers because his father loved him. The brothers conspired against him and abandoned him, sold him as a slave. But God was watching. He raised Joseph up, sending him to Egypt where he became a high-ranking official in Pharaoh’s court, and head of all the storehouses. Later, a famine hit the land of Israel, and Joseph’s brothers had to go down to Egypt to get food. Imagine their shock when they found that Joseph was now an official in Egypt, and …he was in charge of the food supplies! Joseph could have simmered in hatred. Who wouldn’t? But Joseph was a man of God, and listen to what he said to them: “But as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now therefore, do not be afraid, I will provide for you and your little ones.’ And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.'” Genesis 50:20-21 Contrast that with what he COULD HAVE said! Forgiveness takes great humility. But it's very powerful. Have you ever seen a bitter person? Do you shudder at their misery? That’s what happens to a person who feeds on hatred and anger. The bitterness eats them up. It destroys them. And that is exactly what Satan wants, so he can use their bitterness against you. Take your hurts to the Lord and give them to him. He will heal your wounds, and through your forgiveness will move on the hearts of those who hurt you, and the end of it can be something truly glorious, if not for them, certainly for you.