TODAY'S SPECIAL: Matthew 18:21-35
TO CHEW ON: "Jesus said to him, 'I do not say to you up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.' " Matthew 18:22
Jesus is talking about forgiveness here—one of the pillars of the kingdom of heaven. He has just been describing the relationship of people united in worship and how God is there with them (Matthew 18:20) when Peter asks the question, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?"
[Forgive means to grant pardon for or remission of something; to cease to demand the penalty for; to grant freedom from a penalty; to cease to blame or feel resentment against; to remit a debt.- Funk & Wagnalls College Dictionary]
Jesus answers Peter's question with a story. In Jesus' story, the king forgives his servant a large amount. That servant turns around and tries to extract payment of a small amount owed to him. The king gets angry when he hears of the way the big-debt-ower treats the little-debt-ower. For the principle is: You've been forgiven much, now you give back in kind, even though the amounts are different.
Jesus' story illustrates two principles about forgiveness:
1. We should forgive without keeping score (Matthew 18:22), that is, as often as the person who wrongs us asks for forgiveness—even if it's some ridiculous number of times—70 x 7—we forgive.
2. We should forgive without keeping track (Matthew 18:24-28). Whether the offense is big or small, we forgive.
These principles apply to us. We've been forgiven much—our sins that call for the death penalty. Now we must go and forgive others' debts/sins against us:
- Because that's what children of God do - Luke 11:4.
- Whenever these offenses come to mind, especially when our thought of them interposes itself between us and God - Mark 11:25.
- As one of the ways we guard and grow our fellowship with other believers (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13).
PRAYER: Dear God, "I forgive you" is easy to say but hard to do. Help me to forgive wrongs so completely that I no longer even remember them. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.