I send out a daily devotional five days a week to people who have requested it. These devotionals are also listed on my church’s Facebook page.
I have noticed that the most read ones are on the topic of forgiveness. I have pondered some of the reasons behind that phenomenon.
In part it may be that we live in such a litigious society; people are afraid that no matter what mistakes they make, large or small, someone may take them to court. Many fear retribution for a slight, or a word or action given in the heat of a moment.
Take a look at the amount of road rage that gets perpetrated on a daily basis. Look at how many disputes are settled with fists or weapons. Anger and furor flare up.
The thing is, we all make mistakes — every single one of us. And, whether we want to believe it or not, we all have a desire to be forgiven for our dumb mistakes, to have the burden they create lifted from us.
Have you ever stopped to realize that when someone comes to you seeking forgiveness they have given you great power? They have placed their potential freedom from the burden they carry into your hands. You have the ability to forgive or to not forgive, to lift their burden or let it continue to weigh them down.
That’s a great deal of power. It is also a great responsibility.
A part of the Bible states, "Peter went up and said to him, 'Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?' Jesus said to him, 'I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.'"
Forgiveness is part of the daily activity of being in relationship with others. Sometimes we are the ones called upon to forgive. That seems to be where Peter’s question comes from. He wants to know if there is a limit to how many times he should forgive someone.
Jesus’ answer goes right to the heart of the matter – forgiveness has no limit, no boundary. We can forgive without condoning another’s action. We can forgive and grow from the experience.
Something that should help with your ability to forgive is to remember this: You have been forgiven everything by God, and you are called to do the same for others.
Is it easy? No.
Is it rewarding? Eternally.
The Rev. Mark Broadhead is pastor at Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Crestview.