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  • Heidi J. Smith

Second Chances (part 2)


Photo credit to: It's me Neosiam from Pexels titled attractive beauty

A few weeks ago in "Second Chances (part 1)," I shared two stories of forgiveness: the prisoner in the white ribbon story and Onesimus. Both desired second chances.


But what if the person messes up again? Do I keep forgiving?

How many times should I forgive?


Peter asked Jesus a similar question.


"Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to SEVEN times?" Matthew 18:21NIV


Peter knew forgiving THREE times in Jewish law showed generosity, so he proudly answered SEVEN.


But Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but SEVENTY-SEVEN times ."

Matthew 18:22 NIV Or Jesus taught unlimited forgiveness.


Why do I need to continually forgive?


In my life I have struggled with forgiveness. I think, "Aren't some sins too big? Isn't once or twice enough? Why do I repeatedly need to forgive? I was the one hurt."


As I magnify the other person's sin and minimize my own, pride grips my heart. My unforgiving spirit breeds bitterness and spreads like cancer throughout my mind. Any sweet words turn sour, and kind actions turn defensive. My hidden grudge paralyzes the relationship and hurts me.


My unforgiving spirit is toxic and fails to realize God continuous forgiveness to me.


How can I continually forgive?


I can't on my own. Only by focusing on my desperate need for a Savior and His undeserved mercy to me do I gain the proper perspective.


Jesus told Peter a parable from Matthew 18 to illustrate the point.


A servant owed the king a billion dollars, and the king demanded payment.

But the poor servant could not repay it and begged for mercy.

The compassionate king PARDONED the servant's entire debt!


Meanwhile the servant's friend owed him about three months pay, and the servant demanded payment. Also unable to pay the debt, the friend begged for mercy. However, the cold-hearted servant PUNISHED him by sending him to jail.


When the king heard about the servant's treatment to his friend, the king ordered the wicked servant be sent to prison until the debt was paid.


How could the servant not realize all the mercy granted him? Yet, I too forget God's mercy to me. I excuse my faults while elevating others' faults.


Jesus, the King, willingly paid my enormous debt of sin by dying on the cross. As a sinner, I am hopeless and could never repay it. It is only by His great mercy and love that am I forgiven (Ephesians 2:4). How can I then not extend the same to others?


What is forgiveness?


Forgiveness doesn't erase the memory of the situation, but it chooses not to dwell on it. I must choose to think on honorable things and put off harmful thoughts (Philippians 4:8).


Forgiveness doesn't remove the consequences or build trust right away, but it releases the person. ** I will choose not to hold it against the person (I Corinthians 13:5).


Forgiveness accepts the wrong and chooses to not hold a grudge or bring it up.

I must squash bitterness (Hebrews 12:15) and trust that God can use any situation for his glory (Romans 8:28).


Forgiveness is a daily choice of the will.

I must daily choose to do the right thing (Matthew 6:12; 18:30).


Unlimited forgiveness is necessary because God continuously forgives me. When I focus on my desperate need for a Savior and His undeserved mercy to me, I am able to extend forgiveness to others.


Lord, thank you for forgiving me. I don't deserve it. Please purify my mind, melt my pride, and mold my will. Please help me to always remember my need for you and your undeserved mercy to me. Help me to extend forgiveness to others.



** (If you are in an unsafe situation, you need to be safe and seek help.)

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Heidi J. Smith