I think we’ve all had experience dealing with difficult people. They’re the ones who are constantly negative or who says just the right things to get under your skin. It can be extremely hard when that person is a constant fixture in your life like a family member, co-worker, or boss. They can be hurtful and almost impossible to confront, but dealing with difficult people can be more of a blessing than you may know. The key is forgiveness.
In Matthew 18, Peter asks Jesus how many times someone should be forgiven. Seven times? It’s good to know that I’m not the only one who’s felt there was a limit to the amount of forgiveness I can give. While I understood that Jesus could forgive an unlimited amount of times, I questioned whether my humanity limited me and quite frankly, sometimes it just ticked me off to have to forgive someone for yet another offense. Look at how Jesus responded:
“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven. Matthew 18:22 NLT
If you read on, Jesus goes into the parable about a king decides who calls in the debt of a man who owes him millions of dollars, but because he begs, the king forgives him of every penny. The former debtor goes to a man who owes him a few thousand dollars and demands payment. Though the man begs, he has him thrown into prison until he can pay off all his debts. News of this gets back to the king who throws the former debtor into prison to be tortured until he pays off the millions of dollars he owes.
Our humanity doesn’t limit us in forgiveness. Forgiveness despite our flawed humanity allows us to forgive without limit. Certainly we have offended God more than any person could offend us. According to the bible, before we were saved, we were enemies of God. Still, He wiped our slates clean. If we get to stand before God guiltless, how can we possibly withhold forgiveness from others?
Not only is forgiveness the right thing to do, but when we forgive we reap so many benefits. Forgiving others can be one of the most satisfying things we can do. The bible says that we reap what we sow. Forgiving the difficult people in our lives invites others to extend grace to us when we make mistakes. It also allows us to heal. Harboring unforgiveness in our hearts can lead to bitterness and it snatches our joy. When we forgive, we take back our joy and release ourselves from prison.