We waste so much of this short life bearing grudges and holding back forgiveness from those who have hurt us. I even heard someone say once that they had forgiven someone 490 times and that biblically (Matthew 18:22) they were okay and did not have to forgive them anymore. My mom gave me to my grandmother when I 6-weeks old and over the years as I watched my siblings grow up with my mom resentment rose up and took root in my soul. Because of the bitterness and anger churning in my hurt every now and then hateful words spewed out of my mouth. Until the day I gave my life to Jesus. Even though the circumstances in my life did not change, my mom did not instantly love me the way I wanted or craved, God changed me in my circumstances from the inside out.
Matthew 18:22 where Peter says, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive someone who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus responded, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven. When we read this do we instantly go to our calculator and tally it up? Hmmm… 490 times is all we have to forgive someone and then that’s it! We are done ! We can kick them to the curb and enjoy basking in our anger and resentment and feel we are justified! Really? Can we? Believe it or not we have missed the whole point. Did you know this is mentioned in one other place in God’s word? Genesis 4:24; the song of Lamech. Lamech was a descendant of Cain who had inherited Cain’s murderous instinct, but actually ended up outdoing even Cain.
“I have killed a man for wounding me,
A young man for injuring me;
If Cain is avenged seven times,
Then Lamech seventy-seven times (seventy times seven).
So let me see if I have this right. If you got on the wrong side of Lamech he would have paid you back big time, not just seven times, but seventy times seven. In God’s word seven is a number that symbolizes completeness, but for Lamech his revenge or avenging ways didn’t end with seven but went way beyond completeness. To infinity and beyond!
Do you see what Jesus is saying now? He is saying that His followers, those who say they believe and trust in Him, should be as eager to forgive as Lamech was eager to take vengeance. Lamech vowed to punish others way beyond the hurt or crime that was committed against him. But Jesus is saying we should be the opposite of Lamech. We should make it our goal to forgive to the moon and back and beyond! To forgive extravagantly and completely! WOW!
One day my mom called me and asked why I, the one she did not keep, the one she did not raise, the one she had hurt so much, had chose to love her the way I did. She however, did not ask for forgiveness. She asked why. I told her, and I quote, “It is because you are my mama. How could I not honor and show you respect and love? How could I not forgive you when I have been forgiven so extravagantly, so completely by my Lord?” She was silent.
A couple of months later she called to tell me that she had went to church and chose to surrender her life to Jesus. Hallelujah! My mama never asked for my forgiveness and every now and then my mama did say or do something to hurt me once again. All I can say is that I made a choice to love my mama and to forgive as I have been forgiven. Completely and extravagantly!
As I was writing this today my mama went home to be with Jesus! In my grief there is joy because she is with Him. In my pain there is hope because I know my redeemer lives! We only get one life to live here on this earth. There are no do-overs! Forgive!