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Forgiveness or bitterness?

25 August 2023 ‘How often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?’ Matthew 18:21 NKJV

The Bible says, ‘Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him…“up to seventy times seven”’ (vv. 21-22 NKJV). Seventy times seven equals 490 times. But the number doesn’t matter as much as the concept; basically, Jesus was saying, ‘Forgive, and keep on forgiving.’ And it’s a ‘brother’, someone close, someone we may have to live or work with, who we’re called to forgive. Let’s be honest, we all make mistakes because we’re flawed in different ways. Only God is perfect. Think about Jesus’ words as He hung, dying, on the cross: ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do’ (Luke 23:34 KJV). When we’ve been hurt, it’s perfectly normal to feel anger, and it’s a natural human reaction to feel mistreated. But there’s a big difference between healthy, natural anger and the corrosive emotion of bitterness. Bitterness could be compared to a disease or a parasite in a relationship. Dr Maya Angelou said, ‘[Bitterness] feeds upon the host. It does nothing to the object of the displeasure.’ In this case, the ‘host’ is the relationship, and forgiveness is the medication and the cure. Jesus said, ‘Do to others as you would like them to do to you.’ (Luke 6:31 NLT). Offering the amount of forgiveness we would like to receive ourselves helps a relationship to stay healthy and free from the disease of bitterness. Forgiveness doesn’t mean we let the other person walk all over us. It also doesn’t mean that we need to stay in a toxic situation – we mustn’t put ourselves at risk, and it is a totally legitimate course of action to forgive and still walk away if we need to. What forgiveness does mean is that we refuse to carry the bitterness and we’re leaving the situation in God’s hands. It can be very hard to do, but if we pray, God will give us the grace to do it!


The right balance Tuesday 28 May
Are you a true friend? Monday 27 May
Don’t strike back Sunday 26 May
Train your brain Saturday 25 May
Stand on God’s Word (5) Friday 24 May
Stand on God’s Word (4) Thursday 23 May
Stand on God’s Word (3) Wednesday 22 May

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