Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22
Being the bigger person can be hard sometimes. Forgiveness is even harder when the person has hurt you. I can recall many occasions in my life where I had to be the bigger person. I had to extend grace. I had to extend mercy. I had to extend forgiveness. However, I can also recall being the person needing to be forgiven.
When I think about forgiveness, I think of the story of Joseph.
Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery. This one act brought all types of adversities for Joseph. Joseph was accused of rape, placed in prison, and forgotten by those who promised to help him. However, God did not forget Joseph; Joseph prospered (Genesis 39:2). Many years later when there was famine in Canaan, his brothers were sent to Egypt to obtain grain. Joseph was in charge of selling the grain in Egypt. Did he overcharge his brothers? Did refuse to give them grain? No. Joseph loved his brothers. He treated them with kindness. In fact, Joseph told them, ” … do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.” (Genesis 45:5)
Joseph knew that he could not love God and hate his brothers. He had to choose between guilt and forgiveness. “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15) I don’t know about you, but I know I need the Lord to forgive me.
Our God knew we would need forgiveness. Our God knew we would need grace. God knew we would need mercy. So God sent his only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for your sin and mine. Jesus’ blood wipes our sin away! Who am I to deny my sister or brother that forgiveness? I cannot extend God’s love to others unless I forgive. I cannot walk the life as a believer unless I forgive. I cannot live out my purpose unless I forgive.
I never understood this life lesson until I examined my own heart. I used to hold bitterness and anger toward my dad for not being a part of my life. The anger I was holding onto was hindering my relationship with my heavenly Father. I had to forgive him in my heart in order for my relationship with my heavenly Father to mature. Once I released the hurt and anger toward my earthly father, my relationship with my heavenly Father bloomed. To think I almost missed out on being the daughter of the King!
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father is in heaven. Matthew 5:44-45.
Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. The forgiveness that is extended to us should be replicated to others. When I forgive, I am forgiven. I am forgiven because I forgive.
You are enough! You are what God says that you are!
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Tomeka Jones is a higher education professional at her local community college. She has been married to her college sweetheart for 18 years and they are the proud parents of one amazing daughter. In the fall you can catch her on the pitch watching her daughter or watching college football. She loves to tell other women about God’s unconditional love for them. Click here to read more about Tomeka.