Haayyy.. Forgive again? I’m so tired already. Why do I have to forgive again and again? It’s like going round in circles. The hurts never seem to end.
Matthew 18 (NASB)
21 Then Peter came up and said to Him, “Lord, how many times shall my brother sin against me and I still forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus *said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to [a] seventy-seven times.
[a] possibly seventy times seven
What is Peter’s state of mind when he asked this question?
He was wronged. Others are wrong. He’s right. “My brother sin and I forgive.”
How often should I forgive? There’s a limit. Until when? How many times do I have to forgive?
Up to seven times? Peter even answered his own question. He must have thought that seven is the perfect number. Up to 7, that’s it…more than enough.
What did Jesus mean when he said ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times? but up to 77x” or possibly even seventy times seven?
Jesus is saying: No, up to seven times is not the answer to your question, Peter.
Is 490 times the perfect number? Also, No. I heard a pastor once preached that seventy times seven simply means to lose count of the number of times to forgive. Imagine having a notebook to keep count of the number of times to forgive a person! I would rather just stay away from the person, life would be more simple, would it not?
And of course, Jesus always taught with parables to impress his listeners with life situations – stories with a lesson.
Matthew 18:23-35 – the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant
Lessons from the parable:
1) The greater the debt, the greater the mercy. v. 24-27
2) Forgive as you have been forgiven. v.33
3) Forgive from the heart. v.35
If God wrote off the big debt that I owe Him – for the things He gives that I do not deserve (grace) and for the things He withholds that I do deserve (mercy), is there anyone on earth that owes me anything bigger than that? Am I bigger than God that I should not forgive?
If God keeps no record of my wrongs, who am I to start counting?
If God were to forgive grudgingly, perhaps He might have withheld punishment, would He not also withhold giving me good things?
So when I forgive, I need to forgive from the heart because when I do, then I am living out the Lord’s prayer: Forgive me my debts as I forgive my debtors. Active forgiveness is repaying good with evil. It is being compassionate as God is kind to me. To be kind is to be sympathetic and concerned for the sufferings of others. To be compassionate is to step into the shoes of the people I need to forgive: perhaps he did not mean what he said, perhaps he’s going through a lot of stress, maybe I misunderstood his actions.
And most of all, seventy times seven means practice makes perfect. So when my brother ‘sin’ against me and I forgive him, I am just practicing what God did for me – it’s far far more than 490 times.
Today is another day to practice forgiving… so help me Lord.
P.S. I dread that there might be a hands-on practice lesson coming up today Oh dear… help me Lord to walk the talk.
Have a blessed Thursday, my friend.