In Luke chapter seven we can read about a woman with an alabaster jar filled with expensive fragrant oil. When she learns that the Messiah is nearby, she rushes to the scene. In an act of absolute worship, she wipes his feet with her hair and anoints his feet with the oil. Such a pricey sacrifice was immediately noticed by the Pharisee. The observation and criticism of her actions leads the Messiah to offer a powerful teaching on forgiveness.
Luke 7:47, reads: “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven--as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
I don’t know about you, but He forgave me of much. I can be selfish, rebellious, untruthful, unpredictable, and a miserable blob of flesh at times. I have worn bitterness like a bracelet, reacted in anger, and made a mess of my divine design. I’ve let God down. I’ve broken His heart. I’ve stomped on His dreams for me. Can you relate?
I’ve acted unfocussed, apathetic and distant and I can’t for the life of me understand why He pursued me anyway.
In my life, I’ve had many opportunities to pass along the generous forgiveness that I received from my Savior. It hasn’t always been easy. There are some people, some circumstances, I don’t want to forgive. I battle my flesh, wrestle with my heart and still the challenge remains.
Forgiveness isn’t easy, but it is necessary.
In Matthew 18:21 Peter asks the question that would absolutely be on my list of questions to ask. I so relate to Peter. I recognize the positive and negative in his wild passion, fierce loyalty, reactive bent and brutal honesty in my own life. Peter asks "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?" See? It’s a great question!
In verse 22 Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
Now, Jesus is not asking us to do math. Put the calculator away. The number 7 means perfection. 77 is a doubling of that number, emphasizing it’s meaning. Jesus is, in essence, asking Peter to forgive to doubled perfection. That’s more forgiveness than I can wrap my brain around. Ironically, there were 77 known languages at that time. Catch this. Jesus wants you to forgive all people to perfection and beyond.
Yeah, that’s a tall order. Unless. Unless what? Unless you have experienced undeserved, extravagant forgiveness yourself, first hand. When you know what you deserve and feel grateful for the love you received instead, you can’t help but soften.
In light of my mistakes, and in response to the forgiveness I received at the hand of the Most High God, I must extend love to my brothers and sisters when they wrong me.
No, that doesn’t make it easy. It does make it easier though. If you still struggle to forgive someone who has wronged you, consider Philippians 4:13. This passage reads: I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
You can do this friend, and He will help you.
Prayer: Abba Father, Help us to extend extreme grace to others just as you have given us. You have forgiven us so much and have faithfully taught us love through that forgiveness. Soften us. Bind up the bitterness and help us be free to love without reason. Enable us to forgive as you lead us. Amen.
Truth: God expects you to forgive and He’ll give you strength to offer forgiveness even when it’s hard.
*This devotional originally appeared in My Journey of Faith's Day by Day Devotions.