Forgive Each Other
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’Matthew 18: 21-22
When someone has wronged us, it is sometimes easy to forgive depending on the slight. However, if someone has wronged us over and over again, grudges begin to form. We begin to feel enmity towards that person even if they are not doing anything that is directly affecting us. We hold onto feelings of anger and sometimes even feelings of hatred. While scripture teaches that we are to be angry when injustices occur, we are never to be angry and sin by withholding forgiveness.
In this passage, Peter asks Christ how many times we should forgive someone who has wronged us. This is a very human question to ask. How many times should we be expected to endure sins against us and still forgive them? When is it ok to withhold forgiveness? Jesus answers Peter stating that it should be 77 times. While this is an odd expression to us, it holds a great deal of meaning. Jesus is not stating that once we have forgiven someone 77 times that we are free from forgiving them. Rather, he is using symbolism to convey that we are to never withhold that forgiveness. If someone wrongs us, we are to forgive them regardless of how many times they have wronged us before.
After answering this, Jesus gives us the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant. In this, the servant has a debt he could never repay in his life. He begs the king for forgiveness and the king wipes away his debt. The servant then goes and has a man who owed him thrown in prison for not being able to repay him. The king then brings the debt the servant owed to bear for his unwillingness to forgive a much smaller debt than the one forgiven.
If we are Christians, God has forgiven us of all our sins including those we have yet to commit. The debt that we owed for our sins is one that we would never be able to bear. How much more should we be willing to forgive those who have sinned against us? If an entire lifetime of sin has been forgiven, then we should be ready to do the same for those who have wronged us.
This week, practice forgiveness for those who have wronged you. While it’s not easy sometimes, consider what Christ has done for you and share that forgiveness with those around you.