Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Matt. 18:22)
Expanded Passage: Matthew 18:21-22
As parents, much of our parenting energy is spent trying to help our children get along with one another. Our kids are ages twenty and eighteen now, and we are still helping them learn how to forgive when they are offended or to ask for forgiveness when they have done the offending. Part of learning to live as a family is learning how to both give and receive forgiveness. It is the same in the church, which has now become our spiritual family. So, how often should we forgive the sins of those around us?
Some Jewish teachers in Jesus’ time taught that premeditated sins only needed to be forgiven three times. Here, Peter offered an extremely generous proposal to Jesus: “What if, Jesus, we offer to forgive sins up to seven times?” That might seem quite extravagant! But that is not what Jesus had in mind either.
Why? Through God’s saving grace, we are now expected to live to a different standard in the kingdom of God. Scripture says that even when you were dead in your sins, you were saved by grace (Eph. 2:5). Now, Jesus expects all who follow him to be willing to forgive others, not three times or even seven times, but seventy-seven times. God’s forgiveness for you is unlimited. Therefore, your willingness to forgive others is to be unlimited as well.
Forgive others because you were forgiven.
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®.