Weekly Devotion & Prayer - September 11, 2023

Forgiveness Unlimited
by Rev. Tsuker Yang


“Then Peter came and said to him, "Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "Not seven times, but I tell you, seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:21-22).

In her devotion last week, Sue D’Alessio wrote about love which she entitled it “For What, Why?” In it, she wrote about love, God’s love, and how we are to live it out as Christians.  She said, “God’s love infuses the world with life and ecstasy. We are God’s people, called, invited, enticed to live in, abide in, and allow God’s love to flow through us… It is the fulfilling of the mission of human life which Jesus lived and taught us – for what? Why? For love.  God’s wild, lavish extravagant love.”

Sue is right in reminding us of who we are, what we are about and why.  As Christians, what we are is all about love.  Love is our highest principle of living, our unwavering value, ethics, way of life, and our practice.  Love is the center in which all others hinge on it, the river of life, joy and peace, where everything that we do flows from it.

I want to remind us also that “forgiveness” is another principle of our living.   Our love, as God had loved us, is to be unconditional.  Like love, forgiveness is to be unconditional, and even unlimited.  Regardless of how much resentment, hurt or pain we bear caused by another person (a family member, a spouse, a friend or colleague, or anyone), we are to forgive.  Doing so is said to be the will and commandment of God for us who are called to be children of God.

Peter thought forgiving his brother (or a member of the church) 7 times was already too much.  He must be proud of posing the question and giving his own answer.  But Jesus said, “seventy-seven times” (In other versions, it is said “seventy times seven”).  That is to be unlimited.  True forgiveness is not only to be unconditional but unlimited, over and over again and again.

Jesus’ forgiveness is unconditional, unlimited, regardless – ““Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

Forgive our enemies, and people who we know intentionally or unintentionally hurting us -- Stephen, while he was stoning to dead, said, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:60).  Forgive even the undeserved… their sins.  “And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

We must forgive to be forgiven – “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15, 18:35).

Considering God’s lavish extravagant love for us, and for what Christ has done for us and forgiven us, in return, we, as Christians, are to do to others “as Christ has done for us”, in love and forgiveness - unlimited.  This is a hard thing to do, yet it is for our own good.  The pain, the hurt and bitterness are real.  But, keeping them with us, they can be toxic for our health and our soul, even destroying us.  To forgive is to “let go” what is holding us in pain and bitterness, so we can be set free and at peace, for better health -- spiritual, emotional, and physical wellbeing. 

Studies have shown that “forgiveness is linked to mental health outcomes such as reduced anxiety, depression and major psychiatric disorders, as well as with fewer physical heathy symptoms and lower mortality rate.”  Think about it.  Isn’t it good that we have forgiveness for unlimited?  For the one who is inflicted and the one who caused it.  God knows what is best for us.