How Many Times Shall I Forgive?
Read Matthew 18:21–35
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.”
“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
“At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
“His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’
“But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.
“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
Forgiveness is a topic that, as long as we’re in relationship with others, never runs out of application. We’re constantly in need of and needing to extend forgiveness. And sometimes, like Peter, we want to know how many times we have to forgive the same person for the same transgression. Jesus is very clear that we must relate our forgiveness of others to God’s forgiveness of us. If we can ground ourselves in the truth that despite our transgressions against God, God forgave us, we are more likely (always with the Spirit’s help) to have the strength to forgive others.
- Who came to mind as you read today’s passage? Why do you think that is?
- Who are you tired of forgiving? What do you need from God to forgive that person again?
- What invitation do you sense God extending to you as you think about forgiveness of others or of God’s forgiveness of you?
God, thank You for the forgiveness You’ve extended to me through Jesus Christ. How is it that I can so quickly forget or decide not to remember that forgiveness? Help me to be aware of all You’ve sacrificed for me so that I can more easily and repeatedly forgive others. I need Your strength and Your power because my own desire seems to be to hold grudges. Amen.