(Matthew 18:21-22 ESV) Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.
Forgiving is love’s toughest work, and love’s biggest risk. If you twist it into something it was never meant to be, it can make you a doormat or an insufferable manipulator. Forgiving seems almost unnatural. Our sense of fairness tells us people should pay for the wrong they do. But forgiving is love’s power to break nature’s rule. ~Lewis B. Smedes
You’ll be glad you read what I’m about to say because it is profound. Are you ready? Here it is… “Forgiving someone is hard to do.”
See? I told you. It’s tough. There are many reasons why forgiving someone is difficult. It’s unnatural. It feels bad. We feel entitled to be angry. Sometimes, we feel justified in holding a grudge. I could go on.
In this conversation between Jesus and Peter, we are made aware of how very important it is to forgive someone. Peter makes a good faith effort to forgive by offering to do so 7 times. Jewish law required forgiveness to be given 3 times daily. So, Peter was being very generous by offering a 2x+1 deal. Jesus’ counter offer seemed ludicrous; 490 times! 490? Ok. I can do that.
But what about 491? Nope. Not in a million years. Ain’t gonna happen. Have you ever thought about the limits of forgiveness? I don’t believe that Jesus was trying to teach Peter to limit forgiveness. Instead, He was very clearly teaching “unlimited forgiveness.”
If we’re keeping count, then we probably haven’t really forgiven anyway.
If at 457, we’re counting up to 490, we’re more concerned about tracking the offense than releasing it. To be like Jesus, we must not only forgive 490 times, but we must also be willing to extend forgiveness at 491. If you can do that you are well on your way to being a mature disciple of Christ. And if you can’t, maybe you ought to ask Jesus to forgive you for not forgiving! Forgive me for saying so… 🙂
PRAYER: Father, thank you for forgiving me when I was so unworthy of it. Help me to be like You and extend forgiveness when it is needed. #forgiveness=freedom. Amen