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?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. Matthew 18:21
I sometimes wonder how this scene here sounded. I can just hear a whine in Peter’s voice. Can’t you? “Lord, really how many times do I have to forgive him?” You know, perhaps in that same whiny voice your kids use when they are exasperated and annoyed with a sibling. (Maybe not but just roll with me here).
Christ’s reply is basically do it as many times as it takes. As many times as it takes. Ugh, that’s a lot of forgiving for one person. It also means work for the forgiver. Forgiveness is a matter of the heart but it’s also a decision we have to make. It’s not always a one time deal.
70 x 7 is 490 (if we want to get really technical)
That’s a lot of times to have to forgive someone. Maybe the same person will continue to require we forgive them through out our lives as they offend us repeatedly. Or we may have to forgive that one person almost 500 times in life for one act against us.
Christ knew that satan was going to challenge our ability to forgive. Our human nature likes to be self righteous. “Well, he wronged me so I have a right to feel angry with him!” That’s how we justify it, isn’t it? But Christ said no, we’d have to forgive many times.
Why? Because it doesn’t always go away. “Uncle Max” isn’t going to be kicked out of our family. There may be triggers that cause memories of that wrong doing to pop up. Old feelings will try to rear up and I have to make a choice to forgive again.
What God’s been laying on my heart is that I’m going to have to learn to continue to forgive. I have been given the tools to work through what ever triggers come my way and He will hold my hand all the way.
This message seems to be missing in the Christian self help books. I’m not trying discourage you but to empower you! If you know ahead of time, that there may still be things that you will encounter that may cause you to question whether you’ve truly forgiven, then you will have the power to stop it before it gets away from you.
Satan loves to put doubt in our minds. He thrives on taking us down into the pit and will do what ever he can to keep us there. Friends, don’t allow it. You will be challenged and you may be asked to forgive hundreds of times. You can do it. God gives us the tools we need to overcome. Go into battle prepared and win! Don’t let the prowling cat sneak up on you!
Have you ever forgiven someone and then later found those old feelings creeping back in? Did you question your forgiveness? Feel guilty? Hypocritical?
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Eph 6:12