I received a lot of support and encouragement after last week’s post about waiting for the prodigal.
In the comments section of that post, one person asked how often we should allow a prodigal to return.
It’s a valid question, having experienced my daughter’s return more than once.
I believe our answer lies in Matthew 18:21-22:
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. (Some versions say seventy time seven.)
We should forgive every time; however, Jesus never told us to forget.
I can forgive someone their transgressions, but I should not forget their actions when choosing how to work with them in the future. If you read the rest of Matthew 18, it tells the story of the servant who owed his master a great debt.
When the servant could not pay back his debt, he begged for time. The master chose to forgive the man’s debt, instead. The servant, then, went after another who owed him money. When that person could not pay, the servant did not extend the grace and forgiveness he had just received. He had the man thrown into prison. The master learned of this and placed the servant in prison until he could pay his debt.
What does this story tell me? Forgive, but be wise in how you deal with the person you forgive. They may not change due to your forgiveness.
Still we must forgive.
The story ends with this statement:
“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” Matthew 18:35
Christ commands us to forgive. It’s that simple.
For those of you who have prayed for my daughter, I thank you. She has been in contact with me this past week, and we are talking. For personal reasons, I will not share any details.