Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.Matthew 18:21-22
Some time ago, a friend passed on the following quote regarding unforgiveness:
“Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting my enemy to die.”
The quote tells us a truth that should resonate in our hearts. We know in our minds that unforgiveness harms us in many ways, but what about our hearts? When Peter asked Jesus the question above, he was asking if there is a maximum number of times required to forgive another person. Is there a limit?
We’ve all been wronged by someone at one time or another. Who hasn’t felt some bitterness or responded in anger or slandered someone else or secretly held something against someone else? It is poison. While unforgiveness is a poison that does hurt me, it goes further and deeper in that unforgiveness affects relationships with others as well and ultimately impacts our hope in God.
“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”Matthew 6:14-15
We will take a closer look tomorrow, but Jesus explores the meaning of forgiveness again with his parable of the Unforgiving Servant to illustrate that the idea of grace is a two-way street. Just as we hope to experience God’s grace in our failed lives, we must be willing to forgive those who have hurt us from the depths of our hearts.