“Then Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.’” Matthew 18:21-22 (ESV)
“The man or woman who doesn’t forgive has forgotten the price that Christ paid for them on the Cross.” John Bevere
- Invite the Holy Spirit to join you in your quiet time today. God loves you so much and wants to speak with you. As you sit, be still and listen for His quiet, gentle voice. Write down what He says to you in your journal.
Are You Holding Offense?
Are you holding a fence? Famous author and speaker John Bevere made a video about holding grudges in which the main character carried a white-picket fence with him. The fence symbolized holding an “offense,” the barrier that unforgiveness forms in our lives.
When we hold onto bitterness and choose not to forgive people who hurt us, we end up carrying a heavy, fence-like burden wherever we go. We are emotionally, mentally, and spiritually blocked from the people and the life God intends for us.
But many people will surely offend us many times throughout our years.
In fact, as moms, our sweet children will probably be the ones to offend us most often because they lack maturity, are not perfect, and are with us much of the time. What is a mom to do?
First, let’s go to the Bible and learn what God says about forgiveness. In Matthew 6:14-15 (ESV), Jesus says, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” In Matthew 18:35, He commands us to forgive our brothers from our hearts. Finally, Mark 11:25 (ESV) says, “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also, who is in heaven, may forgive you your trespasses.” Clearly, God wants us to genuinely forgive others so we may receive His bountiful forgiveness!
What was Jesus’ response, perfect as He was, to being offended? In His most desperate, hurting moment, innocently dying a criminal’s death on the cross, His choice was to show forgiveness by asking His Heavenly Father to forgive His executioners “for they know not what they do” (Luke 23-24 ESV). Such mercy. Such love. Such beauty. Oh God, give us the grace to respond like Jesus to those who hurt us.
Especially when our children are little, they truly do not realize the results of their actions and words. Costly home décor is ruined. Siblings are wounded. Food is wasted. Sleep is disregarded. Parental guidance is ignored. If Jesus were the earthly father of our children, He would forgive, no matter the cost. We have to forgive like Jesus did. We have to forgive like God commands! Jesus obeyed God and pleased God with his responses to those who offended Him.
Are you struggling with forgiveness? Have you been offended by people in your life, including your children? Psalm 86:15 (ESV) says, “But you, oh Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” God is not angry with you for the unforgiveness in your heart. In fact, He is full of mercy, grace, and love for you. Come to Him and ask Him to forgive your bitterness toward others. He is faithful to forgive and cleanse you from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
God, please open our hearts to see people, especially our children, the way that you do. Forgive us for our unforgiveness. And give us extravagant love and Your heart for others so that even if they hurt us, we can sincerely pray, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Blessings and Love,
Questions to Ponder
- Search your heart. Do you need to forgive your children for offending you? If so, ask God to help you genuinely and quietly work through your bitterness. He is faithful to forgive you from all unrighteousness and restore a loving, healthy relationship with your children.
- Ask yourself: Who has hurt me? Whom do I need to forgive? Let the Holy Spirit do the work in you by asking Him to help you forgive the people He brings to mind.
Commit Matthew 18:21-22 to memory, “Then Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.’”
Remind yourself of the number “seventy-times-seven” every time you have to speak with your child about repeat offenses. Gently teach and truly forgive your child…again.
Create a culture of forgiveness in your family by teaching your children healthy conflict resolution skills. We have been studying good communication for years in our family, and sometimes I still have to gently ask my children to remember their options for handling conflict well. Don’t give up!
Keep teaching and kindly reminding. It’s so important! A good resource for resolving conflict in a healthy way is: Teaching Your Children To Be Peacemakers by Ken Sande. You can find it on the Focus on the Family website.