The story of civilization is a forgiveness saga. Unfold a big world map on a table and drop a dime on any modern population center. Drill down into the history of that place, and you’ll discover that before citizens enjoyed peace and progress, a lot of forgiving had to occur. Weaker aborigines had to forgive stronger invaders before they could forge a society together. The tawdry subplot in almost every instance is that conquerors used their religion as cover for brutally mistreating people. “Since God gave me the victory, it is his will that I lord it over you.” Then the oppressed had to forgive God himself, like he was behind it all.
Find your big family photo album and open to the last reunion picture. Drop a dime on the face of anyone in the picture and delve into his or her memory. You will discover that in order for any relatives of yours to smile for the camera, a lot of forgiving had to occur. People could easily hold grudges against other smiling faces standing nearby. But, we moved on. “Since my God has forgiven me, I am letting go of any memory that would make me feel bitter toward you.”
People’s lives are sagas, and forgiving others is the only way forward. “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answers with a multiplier: “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:21,22).