Then Peter came to Him and asked, "Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?" "No, not seven times," Jesus replied, "but seventy times seven!" Matthew 18:21-22
Can you remember a time when someone forgave you when you expected them to do the complete opposite? Forgiveness leaves an impression, doesn't it? It reminds us of God's grace and the amazing forgiveness He has shown us. We love to receive forgiveness, but we often have a hard time extending it. Even when it is hard, Scripture makes it clear that in relationships with other people, whether they are our spouses, close friends, or acquaintances, forgiveness should be a priority.
In Matthew 18, Peter, one of Jesus' disciples, asked Jesus the question: "How often should I forgive? Should I forgive someone seven times?" Answering his own question, Peter clearly thought that he was giving an answer that was more than sufficient. He likely believed Jesus would be impressed with his answer. Instead, Jesus probably shocked Peter and anyone else listening when He said, "No, not seven times… but seventy times seven." With His answer, Jesus was not saying to Peter that he should forgive exactly 490 times. He was telling Peter, "you need to forgive people as long as it takes."
If you were to ask Jesus how many times you need to forgive someone, He would tell you the same thing He told Peter: "as long as it takes." Just as God has forgiven us for our sins, so we too are to forgive others, even when it is hard. This type of forgiveness will leave an impression on the person being forgiven and can even restore a relationship that seems broken. Imagine the relationships that would be restored and the lives that would be changed if we would be quick to forgive others. God desires more for us than to be harboring grudges of unforgiveness. May we be a people who are known for our forgiveness.
Is there someone in your life who you need to forgive? As difficult as it may be, it is clear in Matthew 18 that God calls His people to forgive. What step can you take today to extend forgiveness to that person? Choose today to take that step. Just as God has so graciously forgiven us, we too must offer forgiveness to those in our lives who have wronged us.
**Please note that forgiveness does not condone abusive behavior. In fact, sometimes you can forgive someone, but still have to remove yourself from an abusive situation. If you ever find yourself in such a situation, please seek help immediately.
Read Matthew 18:21-35 (NLT)
Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”
“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!
“Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt.
“But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.
“But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.
“His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.
“When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.
“That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”
©2022 Sagebrush Church