Yesterday, 14 men from our church and I loaded up in two vans and drove an hour and a half to Texas, to a Men’s conference with about 100 other men from 18 other congregations. We all had different backgrounds, different situations, different denominations (some of us), but all of us had the same thing in common: we were men who knew we needed to be men according to God’s design for us. One of the final topics discussed was making amends with people. The idea of seeking or granting forgiveness is always a one way street. When we seek to make things right, it’s never about the other person’s reaction. Whether we’re seeking or granting forgiveness, how the other person responds is not our responsibility. Doing so with a sincere heart that is God honoring is.
Too many people want to have an “aha” moment, or a “gotcha” moment when trying to make amends. They take forgiveness as a weapon to be used, or a bribe to be held over someone. Forgiveness, though, at its heart, is all about setting people free. It’s about absolving any debts incurred, or repaying debts owed. If a person refuses to accept forgiveness, or to accept payment of the debt we offer, then, one offered, we’re no longer responsible for our part once that offering has been made. How they act, how they respond, whether they forgive, or refuse forgiveness, it’s all on them. We just need to make things right on our own end. Once it’s done, we need to let Jesus have it, and to forget about trying to find it or pick it up again, because that’s not your burden to carry. And, before, during, and after the process, we need to fix our eyes on Jesus, the one who forgives us completely, so that we, also, might do the same. Love completely, forgive completely, for that is what God, through Christ Jesus has done for you.
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
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.
“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”