Matthew 18:15: “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.”
As a young girl growing up in my family, we were (without a doubt) considered dysfunctional in so many ways. My father was an alcoholic (although he denied it), and all of my brothers and sisters and I endured many years of verbal and physical abuse because of it. Some of us learned to forgive him while others held an unforgiving heart towards him up until his death at the age of 72.
As a Christian, I believe that forgiveness and acceptance go hand-in-hand. This was a hard lesson for me to learn, and it took me a number of years before I finally came to terms with my dad’s “faults.” I had to learn to love, accept, and forgive him for the way he was and allow God to work in his heart and life.
Sometimes we ask the Lord to “change someone else”, when in reality we need to ask the Lord to “change us.” With a new attitude and change of heart, I began to heal and had a greater understanding and peace of mind as I relied on God to change my relationship with my dad.
Psalm 139:23-24 says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there be any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
It took my mother’s death (died of lung cancer at the age of 69) to change my dad’s attitude and heart toward God. The night before he passed away, he asked God for forgiveness for his sins and accepted Him into his life. In the Emergency Room the following evening, as my husband and I stood by his bedside, he went to be with the Lord.
How many times should we forgive one another if someone offends us?
Matthew 18-21-13 says, “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy seven times.”
Forgiveness does many things for us:
It gives us peace of mind (mentally). In Philippians 4:6-7, it says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
It heals us (physically). In James 5:16, it says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”
It frees us (spiritually). In Ephesians 4:25-28, it says, “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. In your anger, do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”
When we hold anger and bitterness towards one another, we lose compassion for one another. Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.”
Unless we are willing to forgive one another, God will not forgive us. Matthew 6:14-15 further says, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
When we love and forgive one another, we are following His commands so that we can grow and mature into the person He desires us to be.
May the Lord help each of us to forgive and love one another so that we can grow mentally, physically, and spiritually whole.
Blessings on you,