Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:21-22)
F-o-r-g-i-v-e is not that big of a word if you count it as seven letters, but the whole of its meaning is way, way big. We will not attempt to wrap our hands around the entire girth here, just a small portion that might be helpful to some of us.
When the Lord tells Peter and us to forgive others seventy times seven we are not to come up with 490. Instead, we are to realize the scope of His expectations for us in this area of life. We are to forgive over and over because we are forgiven endlessly in Christ Jesus. How can we receive that beautiful liberating remarkable truth into our lives, and then fail to extend it to others? I encourage you to read Matthew 18:23-35 as the Lord shares the parable that demonstrates this so clearly.
What we need is a disposition of forgiveness. We are by nature (our new nature) to be disposed to forgive those who trespass against us. Then when particular trespasses occur we are already bent toward forbearance and pardon. Yes, from there we run into the big things of forgiving involving the processes of repentance and restitution and justice and boundaries. (We are not punching bags). But before we arrive there our hearts must be right and ready. We humbly (key word) forgive for we have been forgiven.
The Apostle Paul puts it plain and pretty and perfect for us: “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with on another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.” (Colossians 3:12-15)
Now that is exactly the kind of person we should all aspire to be. I am sure you agree.
Well, are we getting there? Are we becoming “seventy times seven” people?