Unlimited Forgiveness

“How many times do I have to forgive somebody who hurts me? As many as seven times?” What a great question Peter asks Jesus. We’ve all been there. We all have people in our lives that need continual forgiveness because they’re always offending us and hurting us. Peter’s asking, “When is it OK to give up on somebody and just stop forgiving them?” Jesus’ answer is going to stun us. He replies, “Seventy times seven!”  Peter gasped thinking that forgiving 7 times was way over the top of human endurance and far more than anyone deserved! I’m sure like many of us, Peter broke out his calculator and figured it out – 490!  We’ve got to forgive people 490 times before we can drop the ax on them? Peter didn’t get it – and neither do we. To make his point clear, Jesus told a simple parable of a King who had a servant who owed him such a huge and unpayable debt, he was about to yank him from his family and throw him in debtors prison where he would rot! However, the King had mercy and grace, and forgave his servant of all his debt, down to the last penny. Imagine the burden gone, a new future and a second chance. But that’s not the end of the parable. A fellow servant owed the now debt-free servant just a couple of bucks. The forgiven servant demanded that he be paid. And when the other servant couldn’t repay the debt, the forgiven servant had the other thrown into debtors prison. Other servants caught wind of what happened, and reported it to the King who immediately cast the servant into prison. “Couldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant as I had mercy on you?” Then Jesus summed up the parable by stating, “So also My Heavenly Father will do to every one of you if you do not forgive your brother from your heart!” Jesus made the point that it’s time to throw away our “sin-counting” calculators because as Paul wrote, “love keeps no score of wrongs.” 1 Cor. 13 That was always the message of Jesus. When He taught us to pray, He said, “Pray this way: “Father, forgive us our sins – in the same manner and way – that we forgive the sins of others.”  Treat us the same way we treat others. Forgive us in exactly the same way we forgive the people in our lives! To Jesus, nothing less is acceptable in the Kingdom of God! It’s not 7 times, or 490 times – there is to be no limit to our forgiveness because God’s forgiveness is unlimited to us! What could possibly motivate anybody to forgive like that? Simple. When dealing with others, constantly remember the incalculable debt of sin that God has forgiven us of.  No person’s sin against me can possibly compare with the volumes of sins that God has forgiven me of. Jesus simply says, “Live forgiving others the way you have been forgiven by Me!” A true sign of Christian maturity is a lifestyle of forgiveness found in the truth of how much we ourselves have been forgiven by God.  We need to constantly remind ourselves that in this often unforgiving world, “I will forgive others, because God has forgiven me of so much more!”