"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me." - Galatians 2:20

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Friday, February 15, 2013


Matthew 18:21-22 (NIV 1984)  "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."

In a world with such heartache, it is unreasonable to consider we can go through life unscathed.  People are mean.  Hurtful words pierce like a dagger.  Indifference replaces love. Friends betray confidence.  Disagreements remain unsettled.  Families forsake each other.

When our hearts are trampled and our inner core is ripped apart, we have a decision to make.  If not properly handled, anger and bitterness will creep their way into our life like a cracked water line in a home, producing detrimental damage.  

We have a bridge to face.  Crossing this bridge is vital and nearly necessary each day.  Small things.  Big things.  Even, enormous things.  The choice is ours.  What awaits us one side of the bridge is life-changing because it welcomes healing, restoration, peace, grace and love.  But, naively lurking on the other side is guilt, hurt, anger, bitterness, and disappointment. 

This life transforming bridge is forgiveness.  To forgive is to pardon someone of an offense.   Forgiveness can repair and restore us while we release the control and desire to get even or settle the score with another individual.  

There are two positions to forgiveness: giving and receiving.  To give forgiveness means we extend it to those who hurt us.  It doesn't make the wrong right or get the other person off the hook.  Forgiving actually frees us from being held in bondage to hostility and resentment.  To receive forgiveness is to accept the acquittal of whom we hurt.  When we wrong another it is only necessary to seek forgiveness in hope of mending to the relationship.

Awhile ago I was challenged to cancel the debt of another.  The wound ran deep and the malice I grasped, spiritually and emotionally plagued me.  These burdens attached themselves to my heart like a backpack.  For years I never knew how to unload them.  I failed to realize the paralyzing side effects of unforgiveness.  This harbored anger was completely justified, so I thought.  Because the offense was wrong, you know, dead wrong.

My life crumbled.  Needed intervention was an understatement.  Through the guidance of another and the power of God, I was capable to release the offender.  Being able to truly forgive cut the chords of my captivity.  Forgiveness didn't make the wrong right, but it did make my heart right.

The key verse from Matthew 18:21-22 preludes the parable of the unmerciful servant in verses 23-35. Based on our own sinfulness and inability to pay our debt, Jesus is point blank in how we are to mercifully treat others when they hurt us. We too, must forgive their debt, no matter how many times they wound us.  

In verse 21 Peter asks how many times he is required to forgive when a brother sins against him. Notice he says, "brother."  A fellow teammate, one perhaps you wouldn't expect pain from. Common teaching among Jews only required forgiveness three times.  Peter more than doubled his mercy by suggesting seven times.  When Jesus responds with seventy-seven times, He is blowing Peter's notion out of the water.  

The sacrifice of Jesus offers us hope.  Christ was innocent yet He was mocked, ridiculed, spat on, beaten, tortured, and nailed to a cross.  He was killed so we might receive and experience the greatest forgiveness of all.  His example reveals the seed of forgiveness being love.  Love covers over a multitude of wrongs.  When we acknowledge the forgiveness we receive from the Lord, it is easier to extend it others, even the really big grievances.  Walls of impossibility are destroyed as we allow Christ's love to embrace our pain.  Then, we can extend one foot in front of the other to cross this bridge.  

Forgiveness is not easy, but essential, to maintain healthy relationships with others and with God.  Transforming power is released when we grant it to others and are forgiven by another.  Remember, forgiveness doesn't make the wrong right, it makes the heart right.  Restoration replaces rivalry.  Peace replaces pain.  Healing replaces hurt.  Grace replaces grudge.  Will you cross this bridge?

Heart Work:
Do you recognize the gracious and abundant forgiveness you have received from the Lord?  He couldn't give you this forgiveness without the cost of His life.  Ask the Lord for the strength to cross the bridge.

Heart Exam:
Who do you need to forgive?

How have you allowed not forgiving someone to create distance in your relationship?  How can you move forward in the process of healing and restoration?  What step will you take this week?

Heart Transforming Word:
Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV)  "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."

Luke 6:37b  "Forgive, and you will be forgiven."

Ephesians 4:32  "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."

Colossians 3:13  "Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you."

1 Peter 4:8  "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins."

Copyright 2010 by Hester Christensen.  All rights reserved.


  1. I love how God's gifts do good for both people involved when received. Blessings beautiful sister, and thanks for visiting with me today too! :) ~ Love out, Amy

    1. Hi Sweet Amy,

      Great point: both do experience blessing when forgiveness is received. Thank you for your encouragement to me. ;)

      Much Love, Hester ;)

  2. Such a powerful post, Hester. I heard a pastor once share that we know we've truly forgiven someone when we're able to pray God's blessings for them. I've used this many times as a "measuring stick" and it's proven to be true, at least for me. When I struggle to say the word "blessing" when praying for that person, I know there's more forgiving to do.

    Thank you for this timely message, Hester. Have a great weekend!!

    1. You know Cathy,

      It's interesting you mention praying "blessing" on them b/c I've thought the same thing and experienced myself like you said. And you know what, it's the truth! (I should have mentioned that in this post).

      Thank you for sharing with me today.

      Love, Hester ;)

  3. "Forgiveness didn't make the wrong right, but it did make my heart right." -- SO GOOD, Hester, and so true! I've found that, at least in the early stages, I have to remind myself that I've forgiven an offense. I breathe a prayer and ask the Lord to heal my heart and let me move past the hurt.

    It's amazing what a couple hundred of those breath prayers will do for your heart ;)
    Love, Susan

    1. Thank you Susan for your encouraging words today. I appreciate your honesty and sharing with me too.

      I need more of these breath prayers each day. ;)

      Love to you, Hester ;)

  4. Hester, I love the words "forgiveness doesn't make the wrong right, it makes the heart right." Powerful post, my friend. Forgiveness is many times only possible with God's power. And when it washes over us like a wave, we feel its coolness and release.

    Love and prayers!

    1. Kristi,

      Thank you for your comment today. I appreciate your feedback. And,thank God for His power -- I like your word picture (how it washes over us like wave and we can feel its coolness and release.)

      God bless you,
      Love, Hester ;)

  5. Love it! I learned so many lesson when I forgave my husband. We grew in ways we could never have imagined when we forgave each other. For so long, I thought I only needed to forgive him, but I realized in time that I needed his forgiveness as well!! Touching post and one we should all try to remember when faced with hard times with others!
    Many Blessings,


    1. Brandy,

      Thank you for your comment today and for sharing so honestly. It is interesting how in time we can recognize that we need to be forgiven too. ;) God bless you Brandy and I'm so glad to hear you and your husband are growing together. ;)

      Love to you, Hester ;)