Forgiveness is something we desperately need in our lives. By nature we tend to hurt each other and our selves by the decisions that we make. We are at the same time both saints and sinners. To understand what we are doing and why is important to be able to connect with one another and with God.
Author Phillip Yancey writes in his book What’s So Amazing about Grace a story about a prostitute who went to a counselor for help. The counselor and the prostitute talk about her needs and then the counselor asked if she had ever thought of going to a church for help. The counselor said “I will never forget the look of pure, naive shock that crossed her face. ‘Church!’ she cried. ‘Why would I ever go there? I was already feeling terrible about myself. They’d just make me feel worse!'”
Is that the reputation of the church?!?! I hope not!! The church should be a place a place where everyone feels comfortable where everyone receives the love and forgiveness of God.
There are many Bible verses that talk about forgiveness. In the book of Psalms David writes: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). God has removed our transgressions! But even though we have received forgiveness from God we still have that uneasy feeling wondering whether or not there is true forgiveness. This psalm tells us that God not only forgives our sins, but removes them completely. How amazing is that!?!?
In Matthew 18:21-22, we read, “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’” Peter was probably thinking that he was being generous. Instead of getting revenge on someone or go after someone for the wrong that they did to you, Peter suggested giving his brother or sister some leeway, up to seven times.
But Jesus challenged the rules that Peter lays out and says instead give grace and forgiveness. The grace and forgiveness from God has no limit.
Peter experiences this himself in John chapter 21. After denying even knowing Jesus before his crufixion Peter is devistated. He knows what he has done and he knows the impact it will have on his life and the life of Jesus and the rest of his disciples. Peter was afraid for his life!
In John 21 after Jesus is resurrected Peter and Jesus talk over breakfast and Jesus forgives Peter for denying him. Jesus gifts Peter grace and grace is a gift from God.