Commands of Christ: 56

Forgive 70 times 7 times.

Then Peter approaching asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him?  As many as seven times?”  Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. Matthew 18:21-22

“Be on your guard!  If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.  And if he wrongs you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times saying, ‘I am sorry,’ you should forgive him.”  Luke 17:3-4

Jesus must have known this would be one of His commands that might be exceedingly difficult for us to obey.  He gave us some extra commentary on this issue.  In the Lord’s Prayer, he teaches us to pray for the Lord to forgive us as we forgive others.  He then makes sure we understand by adding, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”  (Matthew 6:14-15)

Jesus also told a parable about an unforgiving servant which puts the matter quite clearly.  Anything we may be called upon to forgive in others pales in comparison with what God is willing to forgive in us.  Because of His infinite holiness, the “smallest” sin is infinitely unacceptable.  As recipients of His grace and mercy we are called upon to reflect that grace and mercy when others sin against us.

Realizing the magnitude of the forgiveness we have received from God is important because, “Whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”  (Luke 7:47b)  The more we realize the magnitude of our sin against God, the more we love Him.  The more we love Him, the more we will forgive others who sin against us.