16 Mar He Chose Forgiveness Without Expectation (Forty Days with Jesus – Day 6, Feb 23rd)
Read Matthew 18:21-22
Thought for the Day: Forgiveness lays the ‘ghosts of the past’ to rest!
A special envoy of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Terry Waite, was sent to the Middle East in the 1980s where he negotiated the release of multiple hostages. His efforts were successful in releasing 10 individuals before he was taken captive himself for a four-year-period in 1987. This experience could have left him jaded and bitter. However, Waite had learned the power of forgiveness, even recounting a time when he accepted the apology of one of his captors: “We apologize for having captured you. We recognize now that this was a wrong thing to do, that holding hostages achieves no useful, constructive purpose.” Years later, he made multiple return trips to forgive his captors and lay to rest the “ghosts of the past”.
Jesus Himself was asked if there was a limit to the number of times a person should forgive. Simon Peter, misunderstanding the point of forgiveness in the first place, assumed that seven is a fair limit to the number of times we should forgive those who wrong us. Jesus corrected him and responded that, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Jesus’ answer had nothing to do with limits or rules. Instead, He taught Peter that we need to forgive consistently and allow it to become a habit! After all, when we extend forgiveness, we receive peace!
Jesus chose forgiveness without expectation or end. Forgiveness is not about you or I changing the person who committed the wrong. Forgiveness is not about proving that you or I is better than anyone else. Rather, forgiveness is about genuinely letting go of our bitterness and laying the ‘ghosts of the past’ to rest!
Reflect & Pray – Is there someone in my life I need to forgive? Am I allowing myself to be haunted by the ‘ghosts of the past’ because of my refusal to forgive and let go? God, even in my times of frustration or bitterness, please give me the strength to forgive!