DAILY DEVOTION, Nov. 7, 2021
Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22).
Jesus has much to say about forgiveness. Notice that Peter is asking how often he should forgive a brother, a fellow Christian. Yes, we Christians do sin against each other. We try not to, but it happens. Yes, even pastors have been known to offend a brother or sister.
Peter wonders if a fellow Christian offends him seven times, is that the limit of forgiveness? In Judaism, the rabbis taught that you should forgive up to three offenses, so Peter is magnanimous with his willingness to forgive up to seven times. Surely if a brother in Christ offends me seven times, I can strike back on the eighth occasion! Jesus replies that seven acts of forgiveness are not enough. If a brother offends you 490 times (70 times 7), you must forgive. This is surely hyperbole. I have been offended in church, but never by the same person 490 times! Jesus is telling us there can be no limit to our forgiveness. We must always stand ready to forgive each other regardless of the number of offenses.
Luke speaks of the duty of the offender (Luke 17:4). If the offender says, “I repent,” forgiveness must follow. Apart from repentance, it is impossible to forgive. However, we can be ready to forgive as we await those words, “I’m sorry, I repent.” God is always willing to forgive us, but He also is waiting for us to say, “I repent.” It is the same with us. Without repentance, there can be no forgiveness.
Father, please guard my words and actions, so I do not sin against a fellow Christian. And when I learn that I have offended a brother or sister, help me to say from the heart, “I am sorry.” I pray that forgiveness will be a way of life in our church. I pray in the name of Jesus who has forgiven me, Amen.