Here we go again… so abusive! That’s my frustration each time an employee repeats a mistake. And each time he does, I would grudgingly forgive – always with reprimand and lecture, giving him a piece of my mind. And sometimes even practice the active forgiveness by giving him something to eat (even though…. I do not think he/she deserves it..)
21 Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus *said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
What is Peter’s state of mind when he asked this question?
It seems to imply that ‘he was wronged.’ Others made the mistake. He’s on the right side. “My brother sin and I forgive.”
How often? This also implies that 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 seventy times seven.
Is 490 times the perfect number? Again, no. 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 an ‘offender!’ Would it be not simpler to stay away from the person?
Jesus taught this lesson with a parable – a story to make the truth more concrete.
Matthew 18:23-35 gives account of the unmerciful servant.
There are 3 main truths to learn from this story.
The greater the debt, the greater the mercy. v. 24-27
Forgive as you have been forgiven. v.33
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 can be actively forgiving like God does. Active forgiveness is repaying good with evil. It is having compassion like God being compassionate to me. To have compassion is to have sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings of others. To be compassionate is to step into the shoes of the people who needs my forgiveness – 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.
Lord, Let me remember the price you paid on calvary for my sins. What great mercy you have shown me! Please show me how to forgive as you forgive… truly and freely with love.