Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
Matthew 18:21-22 NIV
The Forgiveness Project collects and shares stories from both victims/survivors and perpetrators of crime and conflict who have rebuilt their lives following hurt and trauma. Their website says, “Founded in 2004 by journalist, Marina Cantacuzino, The Forgiveness Project provides resources and experiences to help people examine and overcome their own unresolved grievances. The testimonies we collect bear witness to the resilience of the human spirit and act as a powerful antidote to narratives of hate and dehumanization, presenting alternatives to cycles of conflict, violence, crime, and injustice.”
There is incredible power in forgiveness. Psychologists understand this. Without forgiveness, our hearts grow bitter, and someone wisely said that bitterness is like drinking rat poison and waiting for the rat to die. The person who is harmed is not the one needing forgiveness, but the one who refused to forgive. Bitterness eats away at the soul. Jesus knew this as well. He is, after all, the Creator of us all, and for 33 years was fully human. In Matthew 18:21-22 we read, “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’” This is not easy. It takes the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit to forgive like this. Our sinful human nature demands retribution and revenge. All that leads to is deeper and deeper pain and suffering. Of all people, we who have experienced God’s forgiveness ought to set the example in forgiving those who have wronged us, no matter how often. Who is God calling you to forgive today?
These have been words from the heart.