Be Like Jesus

“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”

Ephesians 4:32

“Do it to me once shame on you, do it to me twice shame on me” is how the old saying goes which is much less than what Peter had suggested to Jesus in Matthew 18 where it says, “Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Peter most likely was feeling good about his suggestion since even the Rabi’s of that day taught that a jewish person should not just forgive once or twice but up to three times before harboring a grudge. So Peter had to feel like Jesus would be very proud of him for offering to more than double the times the Jews were taught to forgive.

From His response Jesus must not have been to impressed with Peters answer. We read in Matthew 18:22, “Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” Whoa there just a minute Peter had to be thinking, seventy times seven? How could anyone even keep score if you had to be willing to be offended 490 times in single day for the same offense? Thats the whole point, you can’t. Forgiveness and score keeping are opposites. People who say they can’t forget a wrong most often can’t because they choose to hold on and not let go. Forgiving and forgetting are choices we get to make. Psalm 103 reminds us that God not only forgives our sin but He remembers it no more. God never tells us to do something that He has not already done for us and provides the strength to do as well.

You know you have truly forgiven another person when 1. You don’t bring the offense up to them. 2. You don’t bring the offense up to other people. 3. You don’t rehearse the offense over in your own mind. (That’s often the hardest thing to do). I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Jesus uses prison as an example in this parable most likely because that is what unforgiveness is, a prison. It’s been well said “forgiveness is the act of setting the prisoner free realizing you yourself were the prisoner all along.” I like the saying, “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” In the story of the unforgiving servant the King was not asking the servant to do something that the King himself had done for him. God never asks us to do more than He has done for us. Most of us are thankful God has forgiven us and some of us love God so much because we recognize that we have been forgiven much. Jesus Himself said, “the one who loves much has been forgiven much and the one who loves little has been forgiven little.”

Regardless of whats been done to us we all have the ability to forgive others because of the forgiveness that we have received from Jesus Christ. After all, if we each got what we deserved we would be in Hell for all eternity but because God is rich in His love and mercy, while we were still sinners Christ Jesus died for us. Jesus purchased our forgiveness with His own blood on Calvary’s Cross.

So, next time someone hurts you or offends you remember you have a choice. You can choose to forgive or not to forgive. God leaves the choice to you. Forgiveness always leads us to freedom from prison whereas unforgiveness always keeps us bound up. Jesus came to set the captives free! Remember this, “We are never more like God than when we forgive, and we are never more like the devil than when we don’t.” Be like Jesus today!

“He who covers a transgression seeks love, But he who repeats a matter separates friends.”

Proverbs 17:9


Michael Osthimer




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