The Measure of Forgiveness

July 26, 2021

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).

Peter’s problem is the same as our problem when it comes to the expressions of love and forgiveness. As the Pharisees, Scribes, and Sadducees’ lives were totally regulated by Mosaic Law, so our lives are often regulated by established or ‘unwritten’ laws that we set up for ourselves. Peter understood the limitation of forgiveness as established by the religious leaders of the day. He was being gracious when he exceeded their limit of 3 times to 7 times. But even in this he fell far short of the limitless grace, mercy, and love of God for us.

Jesus’ response to Peter was not the extension of forgiveness to 490 times. It was his way of telling Peter, “There is no limit to how many times you are to forgive others.” Why? Because that’s the way genuine love operates. When we truly love others the ledger of rights and wrongs is thrown into the trash. Record keeping is not a factor in Christian living. A Christian with a loving heart is a Christian with a forgiving spirit.

Note the words of the Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. If we have this love operating in our lives, then the question of limitations to forgiveness is moot. Jesus said (Luke 17:3-4), Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, 'I repent,' you shall forgive him.

Think of this - how many times do you sin against the Lord in a day? Remember to include offenses in your thoughts, motives, words, and actions. Remember also that when you offend brothers and sisters in the Lord, you are also offending the Lord. Now, how many times do you ask for the Lord’s forgiveness? How often do you believe He should forgive you? Every time you ask? Even when you don’t ask? (Ephesians 4:32) . . . be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

Thank You, Lord, that Your love and forgiveness is boundless. Thank You that where sin abounded, grace abounded much more. May we never forget to be Christlike in our relationships, even in our most difficult relationship where offenses can be a regular occurrence. Give us patience and love to forgive every offense and thereby bring honor and glory to Your name, Amen.”


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