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-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22
Jesus teaches us what to do when we are wronged by a Christian brother or sister. Repentance and restoration are always the heart of Jesus. Not bitterness, gossiping about it, or trying to ignore it.
Forgiveness isn’t based on others’ actions, but instead on our attitude. It doesn’t always mean reconciliation has to occur. Where reconciliation takes two, forgiveness only takes one. It doesn’t mean approval or acceptance of the wrong done to us. It doesn’t mean we forget. It doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences for the offender. It simply means we free ourselves of the burden of it.
Jesus ends these instructions of addressing wrongs with statements on the power of unified agreement in prayer. Things like, “if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.” And, “where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Friends, if you are struggling with forgiveness, invite your friends to join you in prayer. Jesus will join you too.
Peter is feeling especially generous when he suggests we forgive someone who sins against us seven times, certainly much more than the traditional norms.
“I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times,” Jesus responds. Not a literal seventy-seven times, of course, but a lot. And then a lot more than that.
How can we be expected to forgive so freely and so often? Because we have been so extravagantly forgiven. Over and over and over again.
We can forgive much because we have been forgiven much.
Questions: Why is forgiveness SO HARD? How does reflecting on all Jesus has forgiven us for help us to forgive others?