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  • Jane Wheeler

How Many Times Are We To Forgive

How many times are we to forgive someone for things they have done to us? Jesus says in Matthew 18:22, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times."

This ensures that you forgive the other person until the forgiveness is finished.

Think of a time when you found it hard or impossible to forgive someone else.

In spite of Jesus’ torture and agony of His torture and the crucifixion, He was able to forgive His torturers. What about you, do you think you should forgive those who have hurt you? Why or why not?

Forgiveness is not an option for a follower of God.

God commands us to forgive others seventy times seven for the same offense, in the same twenty-four-hour period. Did you get that? The same offense, in the same 24 hour period, in other words, Jesus tells us to forgive others totally and completely. You may not feel like forgiving, and perhaps you are not even sure how to start. That is okay, tell God that you want to be made willing to forgive and ask for His help. He will help you through this process.

I remember a time when I did not think I could forgive another person for something that hurt me horribly. I adamantly told God that I could not do it. He had instructed me to forgive this person and I refused to do it. He brought my children’s faces before me and asked me if I still love my children when they are disobeying. I, of course, said that yes, I love my children even when they are disobeying.

God told me He still loves His children (people) even when they are disobeying, too. The purpose of a good parent is to come alongside your children and help them work through the things that are too difficult, too hard, and that perhaps they do not understand. God understands everything; He knows how difficult it is.

When I told God that I did not think that I could physically forgive this other person, God told me that He already knew that. He said that I could not forgive this person in my own strength, but that He could. He told me that if I would let Him work through me, He would forgive that person through me. I did not have to do the work; God worked through my heart because He lives in it, and forgave this other person.

The relief and weight that came off my body was almost immediate. I was able to forgive this other person because I had allowed God access to my heart. Forgiveness can come in an instant or as a process, kind of like onion layers, a layer at a time. I might think I have forgiven someone, but a week, a month, or even a year later, thoughts come back. God worked with me over time, until that event was “finished” in my mind and heart and until it did not affect me anymore. I did not forget what had happened: we need to realize that forgetting is not forgiveness—sometimes we get these two things mixed up.

God does not command us to forgive because He is mean or unjust. God commands us to forgive because it is the healthy way to heal. When we are bitter and hardened in our hearts over something that happened to us, we are still being hurt to this day over that same event. That other person is still being allowed to hurt you; that other person is still in control of you.

God wants us to forgive for the sake of our own health and healing that needs to come; it is for our sake that we forgive, not for someone else’s.

Forgiveness is a 3 step part process, you must forgive others, yourself and God and all for the same event. We usually only think we have to forgive others, but in your mind you will have played a part in the event, for example: "wow, I was so stupid" or "that was a dumb move", or "I should never have trusted them" - forgive yourself. For myself, often the hardest part of this process is that I think I am not mad at God, but when I get honest, I usually am mad at Him. I think to myself, God could have stopped this, prevented it or perhaps I think He ignored it. God already knows I am mad at Him, He is waiting for me to get honest with myself and start the forgiveness process.

Forgiveness: others, yourself and God.

Freedom is the reward for this 3 step process.

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