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How Often Shall My Brother Sin Against Me, And I Forgive Him?
    "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven." Matthew 18:21,22
 
    Peter asked Jesus how often he had to forgive his brother, and Jesus responded by saying, "490 times", which referred to the people of God and the period of time that dealt with them receiving their Sabbatical rest. The point being that Jesus was going to suffer on the cross to forgive all of mankind's sins, even those that we deem unforgivable.
 
    I was telling a man the other day that Adolf Hitler would have been forgiven if at the end of his life he had repented and asked for mercy and the man looked at me stunned, and said that that was hard to believe. Yes it is hard to swallow that a man who put six million Jews to death would be spared and forgiven and even inherit eternal life, but the fact of the matter is this, Jesus died to forgive all of us and cleanse us from every sin and rebellious act, and none of us deserved it.
 
    Every evil and vile act ever committed from cradle to grave has been washed away with the Savior's precious blood and by faith in this unbelievable act of grace and mercy by surrendering your life to Him in repentance you will be saved and forgiven. That is why we cannot hold anyone in the bondage of unforgiveness.
 
    We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. I John 3:14-16
 
    After answering Peter's question Jesus told a story of a certain king that wished to settle accounts with his servants that owed him money. As he proceeded there was brought to him one who owed ten thousand talents, a very large sum of money and the servant was not able to pay, but he fell down before the master and begged for mercy and the king was moved with compassion and forgave him the debt.
 
    Immediately the forgiven servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denari, a very small sum in comparison to the amount that he was forgiven. The servant grabbed him by the throat choking him and demanded that he repay the debt. The servant then fell down before him just as he had done before his master and begged for mercy but he would not forgive him, but instead threw him in prison until the debt was paid.
 
    When his fellow servants heard what he had done they reported it to their master the king, and he said to him, "You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?" And his master turned him over to be tortured until he should pay all that was due.
 
    "So My heavenly father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother ( or his sister ) their trespasses." Matthew 18:35
 
    As a minister I don't think I have ever met anyone with unforgiveness in their heart that wasn't tortured or tormented by their bitterness. It is a proven medical fact that unforgiveness causes disease to afflict those that refuse to forgive. Cancer, arthritis, auto-immune diseases, diabetes and many other maladies afflict those who do not choose to forgive and the outcome is eternal damnation!
 
    Because the King of all kings died on the cross to forgive us, we no longer have a right to hold anyone responsible for hurting or abusing us, even our enemies whom Jesus also said to forgive. As Christians we can no longer promote war or revenge on anyone for their deeds of wickedness or even when we are attacked because of the Savior's one act of supreme forgiveness given freely to us.
 
    We have been taught by tradition that we should expect an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth and first time shame on you, second time shame on me and so on, but that is not what Jesus said. He instructed us that if we do not forgive we will not be forgiven. He also said to pray for those who spitefully use you and bless those who curse you and do good to those who hate you. That is diametrically opposed to everything Americans are taught from the time they are old enough to fight back for their rights. But in the "Kingdom of God" we have no rights, only forgiveness.
 
    Letting go of hurts and pain is not easy, but the rewards of forgiveness is well worth the effort and will reap eternal benefits not to mention the healing of your mental and physical anguish brought on by a root of bitterness. Ask God to forgive you and in turn forgive those that you are blaming and the mercy and grace of the Savior's blood will wash you white as snow.
 
    For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:13
Raising Up Godly Leaders for the Church

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