Forgiveness can take seventy times just to get it right! I thought I had forgiven the bullies who verbally abused me in grade school, until one recent Sunday, when I heard the Gospel from Matthew where it states,
Then Peter approaching Him asked, ‘Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times’? Jesus answered, ‘I say to you, not seven times but seventy times’ (Matt 18:21-22).
I realized that although I had forgiven the bullies, and therefore, hoped that they would be granted admission to heaven one day, I also thought that I wouldn’t mind if I never crossed paths with them in Heaven. This was because I was still holding tightly to the pain. Had I really forgiven the bullies fully, if I felt this way?
I didn’t want to hold on to the pain any longer. That day, I gave the pain to Jesus – literally! After receiving Communion, I went back to my seat to kneel and give thanks. As I closed my eyes, I saw Jesus sitting in front of me, motioning to me to hand over what was in my arms. I looked down and saw a large, heavy, granite boulder. I reluctantly gave it to Jesus, and in one fell swoop, He tossed it over His left shoulder into oblivion. I couldn’t get it back if I wanted it! Then, up walks two people dressed in bright white robes and they stand behind Jesus’ left and right shoulders. It was the two bullies who verbally abused me in grade school. But now, they were smiling at me – genuine smiles, graced with love.
Today, I see a similar verse to Matthew’s Gospel, found in Luke’s Gospel:
And if he wrongs you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times saying, ‘I am sorry,’ you should forgive him (Luke 17: 4).
When I read these words, I can honestly say for the first time with a full heart, that I have truly forgiven my two bullies. It has taken me over 50 years to do so, but I am finally there!
Have You Forgiven the Bullies in Your Life?
If you have been trying to forgive someone for an injustice, but continue to feel the pain, then there is more work for you to do. You need to give the pain to Jesus. For as long as you hold on to the pain, you withhold the mercy and forgiveness that your injurer needs to heal. By you releasing the pain and showering the person with mercy and forgiveness, you too will heal. Trust me. I am living proof that it works. Trust in Jesus too – He’s got an awesome throwing arm!
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