Yesterday, today and forever is a long long time. Have you ever thought about it? That the days since time began are like the stars in the sky themselves? More than we can fathom. And yet God’s forgiveness spans them all. When we surrender to Christ, when we repent, forgiveness is extended to us, not just for yesterday, and not only for today, but forever because God knows the beginning from the end. He sees our future failures and forgives them for all time. Yes, we may still need to come to Him and repent, we may still need to make amends, we may even still be subjected to the earthly consequences of our sin but the gift of forgiveness is unending.
In Matthew, Jesus shares a story about how we are to handle forgiveness of those who sin against us:
21Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
Now in the notes that I have read and the sermons I have heard, it has been suggested that this meant 490 times PER DAY and PER OFFENSE. So if someone hurts your feelings 490 times today, God calls you to forgive them 490 times and if they steal from you 490 times in the same day, God wants you to forgive all those offenses as well. I know this seems a bit irrational in the natural and I believe that God wants us to use wisdom, just because we forgive someone doesn’t mean that we are giving them permission to continue in their bad behavior. God will show us appropriate boundaries we can exercise when we seek Him. But God is also giving us a glimpse at His limitless grace and the enormity of how much He loves and forgives us.
Sometimes God places people in our life that seem to abuse our grace and mercy and we find it difficult to forgive them over and over and over again. When this happens, I encourage you to ask God for two things to help you deal with situations like this: the first is to ask God to allow you to see them as He sees them; what wound, what addiction, what temptation enables them to offend you again and again? Then genuinely pray for their healing and victory over those things.
The second thing to request from God is the ability to settle it in your heart that you forgive them yesterday, today & forever just as He has done for us. It is a choice to forgive, a choice based on the infinite forgiveness God extends to each one of us. It is wisdom to know that we must rely on the power and strength of the Holy Spirit in us to be able to extend this kind of forgiveness. If you do these things, I am pretty sure that the next time that person offends you, you will find a peace in knowing that you’ve already rejected hanging on to bitterness and wounding by having decided that yesterday, today and forever, you have forgiven them like God has forgiven you.
If you continue to have difficulty extending forgiveness, check your heart; have you yourself repented and received forgiveness? Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is ourselves but we should not allow ourselves to be kept from God’s forgiveness because of that. We should earnestly seek to understand the depths of Christ’s love for us. If He extends us grace, we certainly have permission to do the same thing.
Is there a difficult person in your life that you can apply this to today? I would love to hear how I can pray for you so please leave me a comment if you have a request.