Forgiveness can be the hardest part of being a Christian. Forgiving people who have repeatedly wronged you can be one of the hardest things to do. In fact, a lot of times the devil will attack you with horrible memories of how someone has wronged you over the years and make you feel like you did not forgive them. You wonder why you still get upset about things that happened over the span of 20-30 years even though you have prayed and told God you have forgiven. The devil loves to use this to haunt your mind and make you doubt your salvation. Jesus makes clear how many times we must forgive:
“21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21-22
Jesus is not giving a definite standard number here like some people may want to dive into this subject while studying their theology degree and say “we must forgive a person 490 times”. Jesus is saying keep forgiving. Now, when the devil is bringing up past hurts that someone has done to you over the years it is a very normal reaction to be upset over the thoughts. But just remember to forgive all over again. Just because the thought came up doesn’t mean you haven’t forgiven it just means do it again, like Jesus says, 70 times 7. This could be for the same offense or offenses that happened from a person or a group of people over many years. This is very common in families. Does a holiday bring back the memory again of how you were not invited one year and the other year you were getting the same nasty comments at the dinner table? Just forgive every time the thought pops in your head. Eventually the devil will get tired of reminding you when it doesn’t make you sin and backslide into unforgiveness.
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7
By submitting to Jesus we forgive again and again. Submitting to Jesus is naturally resisting the devil. Just think about how many times we have offended God. The devil loves to remind Him of that too. But we have been forgiven as we forgive others.
“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32
Just because you forgive someone does not mean you have to put yourself in the position to be hurt again and again and again. People who go out of their way to hurt other people are usually demon possessed and wicked, of reprobate minds. We should not be keeping company with them anyways:
“He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” Proverbs 13:20
“24 Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: 25 Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.” Proverbs 22:24-25
God is the one who takes revenge but when we really forgive someone we do not desire God to take revenge on them and should pray for them. Again it does not mean that we need to put ourselves in a situation to be abused again. But just think of some of the things we did to God and how we spit on the Cross of Jesus when we have offended Him with our sins. He is willing to forgive us if we forgive others. How miserable would it be to end up in Hell and still be stirred up in anger at something someone did to you years ago. You probably will end up having to see them there anyways and spend eternity with them God forbid. Forgiving and moving on is worth it because all tears are wiped away in Heaven so we will not have the thoughts from the devil of our past hurts. Plus, your forgiveness may be what the offender needs to experience the love of Jesus and get saved.
“14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:14-15