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 times seven. – Mathew 18:21-22
Tomas Borge was a leader in the struggle against the totalitarian regime that had dominated his country, Nicaragua. During the revolution, Borge was captured and put in prison. While there he was subjected to the most extreme torture for over 500 hours.
After the revolution, Borge was freed and become the Minister of the Interior. One day he found one of his torturers in jail. He walked up to this man who had inflicted such terrible, relentless and brutal pain upon him and said, “I am going to get my revenge from you”. He then held out his hand and said, “This is my revenge, I forgive you.”
Have you ever been betrayed? Lied to? Treated unjustly? Has anyone ever hurt you without cause? I’m totally convinced that if you’re reading this right now, to some degree, you can certainly relate to one of these…possibly and very well, all of them. This world is full of bitterness, cruelty, deceit, deceptions, unforgiveness, and so much more and not of us can isolate our self from it. We can never be in control of what happens to us…..only of how we choose to respond to each and every circumstance….good or bad.
Many years ago, I worked with a co-worker that I had a very difficult time with. It got to the point that I was allowing our working relationship to get the best of me instead of giving it completely over to the Lord. Slowly, I was allowing bitterness and some unforgiveness to take root within myself as this worker had said some ugly things that were false. When it comes to my name and character, I will do whatever is possible to keep it untarnished and clean. After much struggling (leaning to my own understanding), I gave it completely to the Lord and He told me to pray for this person each and every day. Now this was not mainly for him, but for me….especially, my heart. You see, when we harbor unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment, etc., we actually allow our hearts to become calloused, and allow the offense to keep us from moving on with our lives as God would have us to do. As I began praying for him and his family, I could actually feel that tension and stress begin to lift and our relationship began to heal over a period of time. Listen to what Jesus says about forgiving others: 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. – Mathew 6:14, 15 (ESV) My friend, that’s pretty much cut and dry words from our Lord and Savior of how critical forgiving others is.
Joseph was another man who could easily have become bitter. Did you ever think about what he faced? As a seventeen-year-old boy, Joseph was betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery in a foreign land. In Egypt he was falsely accused of attempted rape and spent years rotting in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.
All of this happened to Joseph after God had given him a vision.
I’m sure Joseph struggled with bitterness. I’m sure he often thought, “How could my brothers do this to me?” There were countless ways that Joseph could have justified any bitterness he felt in his heart, but he didn’t. Faced with all these temptations, Joseph was able to realize that he belonged first and foremost to God, and he chose to live according to the laws and principles of His kingdom.
During those years of struggle, God was forming a message in Joseph. Joseph was learning about forgiveness. Later, he would not just be able to speak about forgiveness; he would be a living testimony to it.
Joseph had a choice. Either he could become bitter and hardened by his experiences like me, or he could become like soft clay in the hands of the Potter. He chose the latter. We know that Joseph did not become bitter, because he was well liked in the prison. Bitter people are never well liked.
God eventually turned Joseph’s situation around, and he was miraculously promoted from the prison to the palace. The second in command in all of Egypt. The Bible says that “Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh King of Egypt” (Gen. 41:46). It had been thirteen long years since Joseph’s brothers had mistreated him.
We cannot find a trace of bitterness when Joseph finally came face-to-face with his brothers. He could easily have used his new powerful position to get revenge, but we read of nothing but love for those who had wronged him. Joseph’s brothers were afraid and on one occasion even asked, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” (50:15). They need not have worried, for such was the change God had brought about in Joseph’s character that he struggled to hold back the tears of joy when his brothers stood before him.
Joseph had become a broken man with a deep trust in God. He was able to tell his family, “`Don’t be afraid…. You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.’ And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them” (50:19-21).
Whatever painful experiences you have had in your life my friend, May I encourage you also to freely forgive, because Jesus has forgiven all of your sins and offences on the cross.
Jesus invites you to walk with Him on the path of forgiveness—the path of freedom.
Forgiveness is a great gift that God has given us so we can survive in an evil world where people hurt us, betray us and do terrible things to us. When we have learned to live in a flow of forgiveness, we will be living in freedom.
Choose today to forgive and allow God to set you free.
So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free – John 8:36
Remain blessed & highly favored,