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The power of forgiveness: Not seven, but seventy times seven

My walking shoes.

For the last couple of weeks, I have been walking a few times a week to try to do something about the incredible weight gain this winter (I also bought a dance aerobic exercise video and a mini-trampoline – please pray for my discipline!). My friend’s recent 20-pound weight loss with Weight Watchers was motivation enough for me to get up and get moving…plus, I just do not like what I see in the mirror right now, and I really desire to be healthy, fit and trim! 🙂

As I walk, I pray and seek answers from God to any problems I might be having in life. Hopefully, I will be able to build my strength and endurance to the point where eventually I can start running, at least some of the time. While walking, I am reminded of the scripture about spiritual obstacles:

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1)

I believe one sin that so easily imprisons us is unforgiveness. Forgiving others is one of the hardest things to do, especially when you’re being treated in a way that you don’t deserve. We know that hurting people hurt others, but when someone is being rude or unkind to you for no apparent reason, it’s hard to respond with grace and love.

This happened to me today when I saw an acquaintance in town. I knew from some other people that she had been going through some really tough times the last several years, and apparently she’s facing a crisis in her immediate family right now. When I have seen her in town, I’ve tried to reach out to her and smile, say hello, and even invited her to my home for coffee and prayer. But she is so hurt by some people right now, that she has a hard, thick brick wall all around her for self-protection, and is lashing out at others who cross her path, even though they are innocent. In a situation like this, we often want to respond the same way we’re being treated ~ we want to be rude back to the person! Yet we need to learn to respond in the opposite spirit, with love. Jesus said that we must forgive.

Then Peter came up to Jesus and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”

Peter thought he was being generous with offering forgiveness seven times. Yet Jesus showed him that God desires much more of us. There is no limit to forgiving someone….because that is the way God is with us.

There is great power in forgiveness. We may not want to forgive; we might not feel like it. We may want to hold onto our hurt, coddle it, hug it, use it. But when we let go of hurt, anger, or even bitterness and resentment, through forgiveness, we are set free. Unforgiveness holds us as a prisoner. We have the key ourselves – we can choose to forgive. The feelings of love will follow afterward.

We can pray for that person, and bless her or him, because that is what Jesus did for us. Should we do no less? I don’t want to carry around the extra weight of unforgiveness the rest of my life ~ do you? No, I want to run with freedom – for the high prize of Jesus Christ! As the Olympic runner said in the movie Chariots of Fire, “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.” I want God pleased with me, and so I forgive…seventy times seven. Here is the closing scene of the movie.

Here is a great post on our choices: On The Front Porch: Looking For a New Formula For Life. Part Two.



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