Forgiveness is not always easy but it is a critical part of spiritual and emotional health. It is not about the other person, rather it is about our own state of mind and soul being free from the debilitating power of negative thoughts and emotions. Soul wounds incurred by another’s words and actions, the rumination of negative memories, and the pain of betrayal can destroy peace of mind and even hinder full momentum in life. No wonder Jesus’ commands us to forgive.
I was recently faced with a need to forgive someone close to me. The wound was deep and the thought to cut the relationship off completely was very tempting. Nevertheless, I knew that if I responded by my flesh, it would only end badly for me…been there, done that. I continued to verbally submit my thoughts and emotions to the Lord regarding the situation, and sought the Holy Spirit to guide me through the issue with His wisdom. As I prayed, I heard the Lord say, “Seventy times seven.”
I knew the scripture He was referring to in Matthew 18:22 when Peter asked how many times he had to forgive a brother who sinned against him. Jesus told him, “Seventy times seven.” I have generally understood this passage as meaning to always forgive, since seven represents spiritual completion. Yet, while this is true, as the Lord spoke to me personally, “Seventy times seven,” He also opened my understanding in that moment to a deeper meaning of what He was saying. One that helped me process the current needed forgiveness and enter a place of peace.
In the Hebrew language, the number seventy is symbolized by the eye which speaks of our understanding, or the way we see or perceive something. The truth is that we only see circumstances and understand people in part. Jesus sees and understand everything. Because of this, He says we are to release forgiveness and choose love rather than retain bitterness – to release the situation into His care and complete knowledge. His words helped me let go of a fleshly reaction and to bring Him into the situation. This helped me to quiet my soul, listen for His instructions, and trust His plan.
In the book Beyond Ordinary, authors Justin and Trisha David put forgiveness like this: “Forgiveness doesn’t excuse their behavior, forgiveness prevents their behavior from destroying your heart.”
I pray today that if you are facing a situation where forgiveness is needed, remember the 70×7 rule. Don’t let the power of someone’s sin dominate your thoughts or emotions. Jesus has so much more for you. Reach for His love to fill you as the Holy Spirit teaches you what He wants you to do.
In closing, I want to share these beautiful words by Lewis B. Smedes –
“Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.”