How many chances should I give this person? This is the question that typically rings in our ears when faced with someone who just can’t seem to get their act together. The frustration that builds as our expectations are not met over and over can lead us to a point where we want to give up.
The disciples asked Jesus, “How many times do I forgive my brother?” Basically, where is the line that we draw? When is enough, enough? They wanted to know, when is it okay to give up on someone? His answer was plain, “70 times 7” or in other words, just keep forgiving them. Never give up on them. There is never an instance where we are off the hook from forgiving someone.
As much as we are tempted to think that this is for the other person’s benefit, we must understand that the reason is deeper. They do not need us to forgive them because God will continue to work with them, love them, and forgive them no matter how we choose to respond. We need to forgive them so that Jesus can continue to work with US.
In the book of Matthew, Jesus tells the story of a servant that could not pay his debts. His master ordered him and his family to be sold as slaves to pay the debt. The servant begged for mercy leading his master to forgive and release him from all he owed. The servant went from that encounter directly to someone who owed HIM a debt and demanded repayment. When this man begged for mercy, the servant threw him in prison. When the servant’s master found out, he was very angry and dealt with him harshly.
In the same chapter, Jesus says, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” It seems that Jesus wants us to understand that our walk with Him is a direct reflection on our walk with others. He wants us to know that if He has forgiven us much, then we should in turn forgive others much.
We do not lose anything when we forgive. It is an opportunity for us to build character and deepen the relationship we have with others. Not only that, but we keep the channels of God’s forgiveness and blessings open.
So how many chances should I give this person? Maybe we should ask ourselves, “How many chances does God give me?”
“Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”
Reverend David Midgorden is an Associate Pastor at Life United Pentecostal Church in Hinesville.