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He was so supportive – initially anyway. Trusting him was easy, because he had all the makings of an honest soul. He was an edifier. He made it very clear that he was in our corner. He gave our family a sense of security. This season of favor lasted long enough to condition us into believing that we made a positive choice – until he ripped off his mask and revealed his true colors.

We were completely blindsided. He traded words of edification for threatening consequences. Support turned to enmity. We could not understand how a relationship so positive could change so dramatically when, to our knowledge, nothing happened to provoke the change. We were so confused.

            How did such a kind Christian man become so ugly?

            It’s been many years since his betrayal, but that event is still marked as bizarre when I look in the rearview mirror of my life.

            Who is the man who turned on us? He is the same person who turned on you. He is the one who left you wondering what went wrong. He is the surprise you never anticipated or wanted to experience. He is the one who left a landmark on the tracks of your memory.

             So how do we process forgiveness when life throws us a special brand of crazy? Let’s look at an interesting conversation that took place between Peter and Jesus in Matthew’s gospel so we can learn how to handle offenses effectively.

            Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone
who sins against me? Seven times?” 
No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!”
                                                                                                            Matthew 18:21-22 NLT

            If we were to decode what Peter was really asking we would hear, ‘When can I stop forgiving?’ and Jesus’ response, ‘Never.’

I think that Peter believed he was being generous when he approached Jesus with this inquiry. After all, his suggestion of a seven-fold forgiveness package is more than most people would offer a thoughtless violator. But Jesus didn’t nest on Peter’s generosity. He responded with an exorbitantly higher expectation of the young fisherman – 70 X 7.

Here’s a heavenly math equation:
70 X 7 = ALWAYS

Peter’s seven-fold forgiveness package is a challenge but 70 X 7? Impossible – at least in human terms!

            I was well aware of this scripture when I faced the crazy man in my life. But how could I even begin this math equation when I couldn’t forgive this guy once? I didn’t have the answer, but I knew I wanted to move on in a healthy way. I knew that if I didn’t, my emotional and spiritual health would continue to suffer as a result.

            So I took some time to meditate over that painful season. I needed God’s guidance to process this situation. It was then that He showed me how my actions played a role in my confusion.  

Mistake #1 – I was determined to see the best in this man so I failed to make room for human error.

It was through an unrealistic spirit that my mind painted an ideal picture. Reality knows that people will disappoint at one time or another. When anyone other than God is lifted high, the only direction left to go is down.

Mistake #2 – I let my disappointment turn into outrage.

In my case great expectations were a precursor for great disappointment, and my disappointment was the forerunner for outrage. When I began to feel a spike in my emotions I should have run straight to the Lord. He was the One who could stop the terrible cycle I was in.  

Mistake #3 – Once outrage set in, I stewed in my angry juices for quite a while.

The more I reviewed the details the more obvious the injustice became. By focusing on every dirty detail I was feeding the flames of my anger. I was creating fertile ground for unforgiveness.

You know the saying – three strikes and you’re out, right? Wrong! I am so thankful God operates on the 70 X 7 plan too!

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not letting my perpetrator off the hook. His conduct was wrong for sure. But keeping my Father’s commands should have been my #1 goal through that unpleasant incident. Since I didn’t, I fell from grace as much as that man did.

I’m so thankful we have the Holy Spirit to illuminate truth. If not for the Lord I wouldn’t have been able to see what I had done wrong, and my ignorance could have held me captive in emotional and spiritual bondage for a very long time.

God’s plan for forgiveness is beautiful. When we extend forgiveness, we are leaving offenses in His able hands. It is then that He empowers us with the grace and mercy we need to carry out the 70 X 7 plan.

70 X 7 – what great math! It’s supernatural. It’s the gateway to living light, and it’s the only way to approach forgiveness.

Question to Ponder
         Conflict disrupts our connection with God. What earthly circumstance is worth the cost of such a priceless connection?

Let all
Bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor,
And evil speaking
Be put away from you, with all
Malice. And be kind to one Another, tenderhearted,
Forgiving one another,
 Just as God in Christ forgave you.
                   Ephesians 4:31-32

When conflicts arise no one is more impacted than God Himself. To live in peace is making the Father’s heart the highest priority.
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