Peter asked “how many times should I forgive my brother, 7 times?”
“70 times 7” was Jesus’ reply.
I know that in ourselves, we cannot do that, but he commands us to forgive like that anyway. How? By dying to self interest, self advancement and personal rights. When we are dead, we cannot be hurt so as to need to get even or be vindicated. We can truly say “there is nothing to forgive”. How? “In Christ you can do all things” as you yield to the Holy Spirit in you over your own interests. Are you saying that I am to be a doormat? Paul says to put others interests above your own. John says that if you don’t prefer your brother above yourself, you in essence, hate your brother. Jesus as I refer above, says forgive 490 times. How else can you do this while protecting self interests? Loving others as you love yourself is Old Testament, kingdom age thinking. “Love others as I have loved you” is New Testament, church age thinking. How does Jesus love you? You can’t while living for self, but while dying to self, you can in Christ.
Paul’s Plea for Onesimus
8 Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, 9 yet I appeal to you on the basis of love. I then, as Paul—an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus— 10 I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. 11 Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me. 12 I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you. 13 I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. 14 But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do will be spontaneous and not forced. 15 Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good— 16 no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord. 17 So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18 If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19 I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back—not to mention that you owe me your very self. 20 I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. 21 Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask.
Who are you Lord?
I AM the God of forgiveness and reconciliation.
I am the one who forgave you and reconciled you to myself. So accordingly, I appeal to you on the basis of love, that if you forgive, you can have your brother, your sister, your friend back to you for good. Forgive them as I have forgiven you. Release their guilt and give up your right to judge them. Remember you owe me your very life. So I know that even though it is humanly impossible to totally release them in your mind. My grace will empower you to go beyond just forgiving them to reconciliation. I could and do command you to forgive each other, but rather as my co-heir, I would love to see you take this on as your act of worship to me. To live and forgive like I would. In this way you wash your garments to be pure and spotless before my coming.
Be wise in the matter. Don’t put yourself in harm’s way, but when offended, let my love flow through you. Let my grace abound in you to do the right thing. I realize that you can’t. This is why I must do it through you.
We love because God is love, we forgive because God forgave us.
Paul says in one place that he is a sneaky fellow as he won souls to obedience to Christ. In this book to Philemon he uses his position in such a manner by the statement, “So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me… I will pay it back—not to mention that you owe me your very self.” Yeah right! Like I am going to charge the Apostle Paul anything. But because of the grievousness of the crime of a slave running away was so great, punishment was usually brutal if not fatal. However, in the aspect of his spiritual brother Philemon here, Paul says that he could have commanded Philemon to forgive and restore Onisemus regardless of his deserving punishment; Paul was seeking the heart of the Lord in him to choose to make the right decision out of love for the Lord. Paul is asking Philemon to forgive because of Christ’s attitude of forgiveness.
Two stories that Christ told regarding forgiveness.
“Mat 18:23Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. 26 “The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. 28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. 29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ 30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. 32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’
Lk 7:41“Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said. 44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”
Definition of forgiveness:
Forgiveness is releasing your right to judge another who has hurt you.
How much have you been forgiven? – Pass it forward.