Since sin entered the world, relationships have become “complicated”.  Many times our relationships end up in the following cycle:

Victim of… Betrayal.  Disappointment.  Neglect.  Abuse.   Hurt.  Deceived.  Abandoned.  Embarrassed.

Choose… Resentment.   Bitterness.   Anger.   Retaliation.  Hold on. Re-create. Pain.

Becoming… Dark.  Angry.  Alone.  Lost. Despairing.  Hopeless.

Repeat.

Each time a person enters the cycle, they sink deeper into defensiveness, walls are built, and their relationships grow more and more destructive.

So how do we escape this cycle?

Luke 17:1-10 Amplified

AND [Jesus] said to His disciples, Temptations (snares, traps set to entice to sin) are sure to come, but woe to him by or through whom they come!   It would be more profitable for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were hurled into the sea than that he should cause to sin or be a snare to one of these little ones [lowly in rank or influence].  Pay attention and always be on your guard [looking out for one another]. If your brother sins (misses the mark), solemnly tell him so and reprove him, and if he repents (feels sorry for having sinned), forgive him.  And even if he sins against you seven times in a day, and turns to you seven times and says, I repent [I am sorry], you must forgive him (give up resentment and consider the offense as recalled and annulled).   The apostles said to the Lord, Increase our faith (that trust and confidence that spring from our belief in God).   And the Lord answered, If you had faith (trust and confidence in God) even [so small] like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, Be pulled up by the roots, and be planted in the sea, and it would obey you. 

I have read/heard this passage many times in my life.  But last week as I was reading it, I felt like some words really “jumped off the page” at me… like in one of those comic books where the words are suddenly in 3-D.  Jesus has been sharing with the disciples that they are going to be tempted and that people around them are going to sin, or miss the mark, and that we are supposed to forgive them.  (Verse 3)  I wonder if they were thinking what my thoughts were… “Ok, I can handle that, people are going to make mistakes, but if they are really sorry, I can forgive them. “

Then Jesus throws a curve ball in verse 4- “And even if he sins against you seven times in a day, and turns to you seven times and says, I repent [I am sorry], you must forgive him (give up resentment and consider the offense as recalled and annulled). “

WHAT????  I have to forgive him again?  And again?  And again?  And again? And again? And again? And again?…. you get the idea.

This is where the words jumped at me… Verse 5… “The apostles said to the Lord, Increase our faith (that trust and confidence that spring from our belief in God). “

This is the key to breaking the cycle: Forgiveness.  And, we have to have faith to forgive… we have to forgive as God forgives, ( think about where we’d be if He forgave us like we sometimes forgive others)…  you must forgive him (give up resentment and consider the offense as recalled and annulled). “  Luke 17:4b

We must have faith to allow God to erase the pain from our hearts.  We don’t carry it with us.  We release them and ourselves from the burden of the sin they committed against us.   This doesn’t mean there aren’t changes made for future interactions, boundaries set up, and processes for them to be restored, BUT we must choose to release the hurt, pain, and anger that the actions caused.  Take a look at the options:

Victim of….Betrayal.  Disappointment.  Neglect.  Abuse.   Hurt.  Deceived.  Abandoned.  Embarrassed.

Choose… Resentment.   Bitterness.   Anger.   Retaliation.  Hold on. Re-create. Pain.

Become… Dark.  Angry.  Alone.  Lost. Despairing.  Hopeless.  Defensive.  Walled-in.

Repeat.

OR….

Victim of….Betrayal.  Disappointment.  Neglect.  Abuse.   Hurt.  Deceived.  Abandoned.  Embarrassed.

Choose to… Forgive.  Release.  Purge.  Let go.  Forget.  Reconcile.   Restore.

Becoming… Light.  Peaceful.  Together.   Found.   Hopeful.  Healed.  Open.

Move On.

To live life in this way takes faith.  How often when someone betrays us, we show our scars as a badge to say, “Look at this wound! This person did this to me, and because of it I’ll never be the same.”

What if we shifted things, and offered forgiveness, changing the cycle, letting the restoration process unfold with the same grace and mercy that God poured out upon us. Proclaiming to all, “Look at this healing!  Look how God restored that which was meant for evil.  Look at the restoration God has done through faith and forgiveness.  We will never be the same!”

Today let’s forgive like God forgave us.  Change the cycle.  Get out of the dark, and see what miracles God has in store for you!  His transforming power of forgiveness that brought you out of sin, is available to bring change and life to you today.  God increase our faith!

 

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