Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 224/260: Peter

Read Matthew 18:21-35

The Faithful Forgive

How easy is it to forgive someone who has sinned against you? Maybe they stole from you, or perhaps they spoke lies against you behind your back and damaged your reputation. How easy is it to forgive that person?

Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” (Matthew 18:21). The apostle likely thought he was being quite generous, giving his fellow man seven opportunities to do wrong without consequence. The rabbis taught that three times was sufficient to forgive, but based on the prophecy of Amos (1:3, 6, 9, 11, 13; 2:1, 4, 6), for a fourth transgression forgiveness was not to be granted. Peter suggested twice as many times plus one! Surely, that is enough, isn’t it?

Jesus answered, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22). This is not to say that a person may sin 490 times against you, but that 491st time you do not need to forgive. How many of us would be in dire trouble if such was the case before God? Rather, Jesus is teaching complete and total forgiveness; it is an attitude of forgiveness that is always present in the Christian.

Is that easy? Sometimes, no! When we are personally attacked, harmed, or a loved one is hurt, it is not at all easy to forgive! Yet, we must, if we desire forgiveness for ourselves from the Father. What happened to the man in the parable who refused to forgive his fellow servant? “And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him” (Matthew 19:34). Jesus then drives the point home: “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses” (Matthew 19:35).

Can we ever repay God for what He has done for us? The answer, in case you didn’t know, is no. There is no amount of good works that can make up for our sin. But God is willing to forgive us. Yet, His willingness is contingent on our forgiveness of others. Is there anyone that you need to forgive today?

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