How many times should I forgive my brother when he sins against me?
The apostle Peter asked the question and Jesus gave the answer.
Matthew 18:21-22English Standard Version (ESV)
The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant
21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.
I know that Bible verses are not supposed to be taken out of context but this answer seems to be pretty clear. To the Jews it represented the number of infinity.
I find myself in a situation where someone I love is hurting me continually. The person is a Christian and every time this happens they apologise – ask for forgiveness and on we go again until the next time.The trouble is – this pattern of behaviour has been happening over 28 years and I am wondering when its going to stop?
I know that this person is very damaged.
They tell me that they have changed and I genuinely believe that they are trying really hard to – that they want to.
The trouble is………
I just can’t take anymore!
I love this person very much.
I want them to be happy.
I want then to be whole and healed.
I just dont want to be their emotional puch bag anymore.
Everywhere I look I cannot escape the fact that as a Christian I am required to forgive this person.
And I know that I am far from perfect myself.
I sometimes hurt people without realising that I have.
And there are times when I treat Jesus in exactly the same way as this person is treating me
and I know
In truth I don’t know where I would be without the forgiveness of Jesus and others that I have wronged along the way. It is the hope my life and faith are built upon.
I’m not even sure that forgiveness is really my issue, I love this person and want God’s best for them
and I know that
This person is a family member (but not my husband).
The irony is – if they were my husband, I could legitimately leave them because to stay would be to remain in an abusive situation. I may not have the bruises to show for it but a close examination of my heart would tell you everything you needed to see.
I want to honour God in my behaviour towards this person
I can’t help but feel that…….
So I am left with the dilemma. A broken heart – a letter asking me to forgive and forget once more – yet it feels to me as if to do so is to give that person permission to carry on their behaviour.
What do I do?