21 Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus *said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.- Matthew 18:21-22
The pharisees taught the people that when someone sins against you, forgive them up to three times. Peter, being graceful, thought of seven times on forgiving. But Jesus said and taught them (and us) to forgive people who sin against us 70x7 (seventy-seven times, other version). It's a lot of number. And yes, Jesus didn't make a mistake on multiplication. And He even intentionally used the mathematical method of multiplication. Not addition. Not subtraction. Not division. But multiplication.
|Photo courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jauladeardilla/3845953373/|
So what did Jesus imply on that multiplication? :-)
He meant that no matter how many times a person sins against you, forgive them anyway. And, we should not even keep track of how many times that person sins against us. We should not keep a record of wrongs. Wow! That is something!
It takes God's grace to do that! Really. It takes grace even for a single offense done to you in order for you to forgive. If we just depend on our capacity to forgive, I guess we fail on this 70x7 marker. It's hard, you know. It takes extra grace from God to enable us to forgive freely and in countless. Imagine, the same person offends you; probably the same offense done to you. Wouldn't that a tiring thing to do to repeatedly forgive that same person with that same offense? I sure bet it is! That's why we need that extra grace from God. And that grace is the same grace we do not deserve but still is given to us.
"While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Take not of the word, "while." We haven't asked for forgiveness yet, but Christ already died for us. God, for that matter, forgave us.
Amazing! Just take this time and really chew on those words and savor them.
You see. God's ways and thoughts are way different from ours. His views are totally different from ours. His principles are, for real, absolutely different from us. His kingdom-principles are far, far off from our earthly principles.
Amazing grace. Amazing love. Amazing God!
And one thing more... We have only accounted others' offense when, just like Peter, we say, "when he sins against me." It's like we consider ourselves so righteous that we only take into account other people sinning against us, and counting ourselves out the possibility of us sinning against others. Have we forgotten? We also offend people by our speech and actions. It is not only about them. It is also about us!
If you were that person who sins many times against someone, you would also want to be forgiven countlessly, wouldn't you? You also want to be pardoned by your sins, don't you? You see, we are not always on the being-offended-by side. Many times, we are on the giving-offense-to side. We should not look at ourselves like flawless saints because we are not. We should look at ourselves as forgiven sinners. Because at least one point of our lives, we have sinned against God and people, and we, for sure, will be sinning against them in the future. God knows we are imperfect. That is why while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. We did not deserve the pardon, but He pardoned us anyway. So who are we not to forgive others who have sinned against us? If we were the ones who sinned against our fellow, we also want to be forgiven by our sins.
Just as God did.
I would be a hypocrite if I told you that I can do this "70x7" principle freely, easily, and frequently. To be honest, I do have some struggle in this area, and God is dealing with me on this.
I am offended. Yes.
I am offensive. Yes.
All the more I need to apply Jesus' teaching on forgiveness in my life, not because I claim to be a Christian, but because I love God. And when I say I love God, it means I obey Him.
Love supersedes difficulty. And I thank God that He gives grace unsparingly when I ask Him; and that includes the area of forgiveness.
I thank You for I am forgiven. I am pardoned. I am free from the wage of sin because of Your Son, Jesus' death on the cross. Thank You, for giving me a new life in Christ Jesus! Father God, I ask You to give me that extra grace I need for me to obey Jesus' words on forgiveness. I admit that at times, I settle on just the "seven times." I don't want that. I want to be like Jesus, forgiving men seventy times seven times.
Father God, I pray and decide today and I remind myself that I have already forgiven those who offended me (names flashing in my mind) in Jesus' name. I pray and I ask of You to open the hearts of people whom I offended to forgive me. Father God, You restore relationships and make things beautiful in Your time.
This I pray in Jesus' mighty name. Amen!
[Journal entry: August 14, 2013]