Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me?” (Matt. 18:21)
Expanded Passage: Matthew 18:21-35
Dan Wieden, the creator of the famous Nike tagline “Just Do It,” passed away recently. He described receiving the inspiration for the iconic phrase from a death row inmate who, when waiting to go to his death, exclaimed, “You know, let’s do it!”
I love the enthusiasm in Peter’s question to Jesus. Peter honestly wanted to know how the disciples were to treat one another when conflict happened. It seems he had a sense that Jesus’ answer would be different from the world’s answer. In the world, it is common, and even encouraged, to hold a grudge. Judaism raised the standard by extending forgiveness for premeditated sin up to three times. Jesus, though, changed the approach altogether.
Jesus implied that if you are counting the number of times you have forgiven someone, then your forgiveness is limited. Jesus did not minimize the difficulty of extending forgiveness. Forgiveness is often very difficult, but forgiveness is an important area where the “rubber meets the road” in the Christian life. It can even seem impossible in some circumstances. Jesus taught that the important thing to do, with the help of the Holy Spirit, is to just forgive. His imperative is clear: When we don’t feel like forgiving, or when forgiveness seems particularly difficult, perhaps we need to borrow the phrase from Wieden and “just do it.”
Practice extending forgiveness even when it is difficult.
Branden Petersen is the cofounder/pastor of Resurrection Life NYC in Manhattan with his wife, Jenn. He is also the founder and director of the urban church planting network, Global Cities Network.
© 2024 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.