70 x 7
Matthew 18:22-23 (70 x7)
Ephesians 4:31-32 ESV
Proverbs 4:25 ESV
Exodus 34:6 ESV
Exodus 33:18-23 ESV
I write about forgiveness, yet again because throughout the course of my ministry it’s been the number one issue that surfaces time and time again.
I have a hunch that’s because forgiveness is not understood.
I say that because when people come to me telling why they cannot forgive someone, I totally understand when I hear their story.
Often times, they forgave the same person for the same thing over and over again, then one day they just snapped and couldn’t muster up the courage to open up to being hurt again.
I totally get that.
The problem is NOT that they don’t have enough courage, or fortitude.
The problem is that they were taught from a young age that forgiveness is a feeling.
It’s not a feeling.
Or at least it isn’t a feeling that the human brain can cope with on a long term basis.
The forgiveness that Jesus taught about is simply a choice.
When we’ve been badly hurt, we have a choice to say, “Jesus, I forgive them.”
When you do that you are telling God that you choose NOT to carry it any longer. You are telling God you are turning the matter over to God.
You are asking for divine intervention.
Will the feeling come back? If it’s severe, it will most likely return but when it does, you can choose to give the matter back to God so He can intervene.
When Jesus’ followers asked Him how many times they needed to forgive, He answered, “70 x 7” (Matthew 18:22-23) which is an eternal number. (http://www.70x7.com/70x7meaning.htm)
We need to remember that forgiving is difficult because it’s a hidden issue. It’s not something we want to talk about and it’s definitely not something we want to do.
That’s because it’s hard. It’s part of the human condition. When we hurt, we either fight back or we hide. Both kinds of people suffer…they just handle it in different ways.
If you fight back, you defend yourself.
If you hide you run away from your feelings.
One type is not better that the other.
In Ephesians 4:31-32 the Apostle Paul wrote, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
Paul did not intend that we to handle the issue or the hurt on our own. His intention was to give it (surrender it) to God.
Once we give it to God wise King Solomon tells us in Proverbs 4:25, “Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.”
Believe God is handling it.
That does not mean in every case one time takes care of it. It means that every time the issue resurfaces, we need to surrender it to God again.
How many times?
I tell people, as many times as it takes.
God is not in the business of counting how many times we come to Him for help.
God loves us with an everlasting love and God is a good “Papa”.
In scripture Moses helps us understand God because he met God on the mountain.
Exodus 34:6 tells us, “The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”
In Exodus 34, God met Moses on the mountain again and God passed before Moses. In Exodus 33:18-23 Moses asked God to reveal His glory to Moses and God agreed to show himself to his servant. “Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” And the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.”
When Moses was confronted with the character and nature of God, Moses knew God was gracious and full of mercy.
You are no different than Moses.
The truth about unfaithfulness, lying, or being treated with unkindness hurts. It’s toxic to the soul. At the same time the toxicity of not forgiving really only hurts you.
Don’t let the person who sinned against you cause you to carry their sin.
Give it to Our gracious loving God. And when you struggle to forgive go to God…70 x 7. Go to God and surrender your pain as many times as it takes.
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Surrender your pain
Give God your pain by speaking words of forgiveness to God. Tell God how you’ve been hurt as many times as it takes for you to be healed.
In God, Deborah