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Seventy Times Seven

It’s this forgiveness thing. It’s hard. Hard especially when the same feelings resurface for the thing I just forgave. I think, “how can I still be angry–how can I feel like screaming over this? I just forgave it.”

It’s as if I don’t know how to forgive. Don’t know how to let go, even when I understand and desire the true healing that can only come when I let go. When I forgive. In excess, I’ve heard how my unforgiveness doesn’t limit the other person like it does me, doesn’t stop him from having a great day or smiling while he eats Cheetos. And how my unforgiveness darn near suffocates me. Right. Got it. All true. Only I fake-nod my understanding. “Easy for you,” I think.

In Matthew 18:21, the bible says that Peter came up to Jesus and asked him, “Lord how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me?” Then Peter generously suggests. “Up to seven times?”

And Jesus answered him, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Or as the New King James version of the bible says, “up to seventy times seven.”

In other words, every single time. And then some.

Jesus isn’t saying that we are to keep asking the Lord for forgiveness for the thing we’ve already asked forgiveness for. Because when God forgives, his forgiveness is complete. That thing…it is forgiven. God doesn’t have repeat emotions over our forgiven sin. He says in Isaiah 43:25, “I…am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

For his own sake. All of it. Gone.

It’s like he’s saying, “What good could it possibly do–to me or you–to remember your sin?” None. And so he doesn’t.

Which is great. Unfathomable, really. God forgives completely. But what about me?

Well. Jesus knew. Knew that unforgiveness can kill us from the inside out. Knew that even when we forgive, a part of us can still choose to hang onto the hurt, can still choose to cradle the crap, or to justify our disguest at the injustice or begrudge our own forgiveness, as if it was ursurped from us and not freely uttered.

We want to forgive, have tried, even, but could never completely forgive. Not that hurt. Not the memory of those words. And so the root lives. But since even God forgives us, as he says, “for his own sake.” It seems that for ours, we ought to as well.

And so what can we expect when we walk in forgiveness?

Freedom.

And so the revelation isn’t that we must not have forgiven correctly the first time when we thought we’d forgiven. It’s that freedom comes as we continue to forgive. That same thing. That same person for the same thing. We’re to keep releasing. Keep letting go. Time and again. Seventy times seven, if we have to.

Because it is in our forgiveness that Christ begins to heal us. It is in our forgiveness–again–that the knots in our stomach loosen and disappear. That our anger is like mist and then no more. And we can sleep, by God, we can sleep. It is in our forgiveness that God supernaturally heals.

And one day, when we utter,”I forgive you,”even to ourselves, for the uncountable-eth time, we can know that it is done. We can know that we are free.

 

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