The Freedom Of Forgiveness

The Freedom Of Forgiveness

Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.
–Ephesians 4:26

One of my favorite stories is the one about a man who was bitten by a rabid dog. The man was rushed to the hospital, and the doctors found that he had contracted the dread disease. This was before there was any cure for rabies. So the doctor had to inform the man that his disease was terminal. “We will try to do everything we can to make you comfortable,” the doctor said, “but I strongly suggest you get your affairs in order as quickly as possible.”

The man was stunned. But after a few moments, he asked for a pen and paper, and he began to write furiously. When the doctor came back to check on his patient, the man was still writing. The doctor said, “I am glad to see that you are getting your will together.”

The man said, “Doc, this ain’t a will. It’s a list of all the people I am going to bite before I die.”

Most of us carry a list like that in our minds, don’t we? That list may include a friend who has wronged us, a business associate who has cheated us, or a mate who has betrayed us. The fact is, all of us get hurt deeply in life. We can choose to hold on to those hurts, reliving them over and over in our minds. As a pastor, I have seen how unresolved anger destroys individuals, families, and entire churches.

Instead of holding on to offenses, we know we should forgive. But it is like C. S. Lewis said one time: “Every one says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.”

In Matthew 18:21, Peter asked, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” In those days, there was a popular rabbi who taught that you are to forgive people up to three times. So when Peter said, “Up to seven times?” he thought he was being generous. Notice Jesus’s response: “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven” (v. 22). In other words, we are to forgive an unlimited number of times. How do we do that? And why should we let go of the offenses that are committed against us? Jesus answered those questions in the parable we are going to study this week.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Freedom Of Forgiveness” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2005.

Rabies story adapted from Gary Inrig, “The Parables: Understanding What Jesus Meant” (Grand Rapids: Discovery House, 1991), 63; C. S. Lewis, “Mere Christianity,” in The Complete C. S. Lewis Signature Classics (New York: HarperOne, 2007), 98.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.