We LOVE to hold grudges. Deep down people often think that God holds grudges too. This often shows up in us not running to God when we mess up, but running from him. When we hold grudges, when we withhold forgiveness, we are doing something that God doesn’t do. It is an odd place to be when we see a sin that we cannot forgive but God can.
Read Matthew 18:21-22. Jesus is teaching on forgiveness and Peter (who like many of us suffered from foot in mouth disease) asked Jesus how often we should forgive. Peter, trying to be gracious, asked if 7 was an ok number. Jesus response was a factor of 70 higher. 490 times forgiving someone is no significant number. Especially if you’re keeping track.
Hold the phone!
Think about a sin you often commit. Now, Jesus died once for all sin. When we sin, again, Jesus forgives it. Think through all the sins you have committed in the las three days, knowing full well about the Bible and what Jesus did for you. Jesus forgave it. Jesus’ heart is wired for forgiveness. That same forgiving attitude Jesus has for you is the same attitude he has towards the person who wronged you.
What forgiveness teaches us is how much people matter. It teaches us how important relationships are. Jesus brought people together through the power of forgiveness. He didn’t destroy people, when he totally could have. The beauty of the Gospel is that when we mess up, Jesus’ arms are always open. There is no barrier but our own pride.
When going through challenging time a pastor friend gave me a stern warning. He said: If you go down the bitterness path, dig two graves. Bitterness will destroy you. Jesus showed us a better way to make change happen, by giving up rights rather than demanding them. Jesus forgave, rather than distributed justice. Jesus sacrificed, rather than demand worship. Jesus served rather than be honored.