Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Matt. 18:22)
WHY DID JESUS SAY seventy-seven times? Seven, in ancient numerology, represents perfection. So, when Peter asked Jesus if he should forgive seven times, he was being a touch pompous. Jesus caught him by saying he should forgive seventy plus seven. Zero in numerology means eternity, because a circle is without end. Our forgiveness should be more than perfect; it should be unending.
We can never play tit for tat, thinking that we must forgive others the exact amount God forgave us. But we can never out-forgive God. At every opportunity we should be ready to forgive others, regardless of their actions in the past, present, or future.
Forgiving is not condoning. We can forgive and still let the person know there are consequences for their behavior. A forgiver is not a doormat to be trampled upon. Instead, forgiveness opens the door to a new relationship. If the other person slams it shut again by not changing his or her behavior, so be it.
Perhaps you have seen the famous portrait of Christ inspired by Revelation 3:20, which depicts Jesus standing at a door, knocking. There is no knob on His side of the door. It is up to us to open the door. Each time people wrong us, we must make the effort to extend forgiveness, as Jesus does, even if they open the door and then slam it in our faces seventy-seven times.
Think about the doors of forgiveness you need to knock on. Now, go knock.
Julie B. Cosgrove is an award-winning, multi-published author who regularly writes for several devotional websites and publications.
© 2018 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission.