Seventy Times Seven!
“Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
Colossians 3:13 (NRSV)
It seems like forgiveness weaves itself through the pages of the Bible like a golden thread. Someone once said, and I can’t for the life of me remember who; “When I forgive someone, I set a captive free and that captive is me!” In forgiveness, the power of God is released, reconciliation happens, peace of mind returns, prisoners are set free and joy fills the lives of those who are forgiven and also those who have extended this amazing gift of forgiveness.
Some of the words that we humans have difficulty in saying are; I’m sorry…please forgive me…I love you…and most importantly, I forgive you.
With this in mind I’d like to take a close look at the teaching of Jesus about forgiveness found in Matthew 18:21-22 (NLT). It begins with Peter coming to Jesus and asking, “How many times should I forgive somebody—seven times?” Here Peter is getting caught up in the numbers game and wants to know the limit to forgiveness. But Christ replies, “No Peter; but seventy times seven!” In other words, you have missed the point Peter—you have missed the spirit behind forgiveness. Please don’t have a calculator heart, don’t have a measuring stick approach towards this very important act, and please don’t limit God—so Jesus raises the bar for Peter. Because to forgive someone 490 times during a 16 hour day, we would have to forgive them for the same offence 30 times an hour or once every 2 minutes!
Forgiveness is a full time job. Forgiveness is a lifestyle and we don’t need to keep score. These words, “I forgive you” are magical; they pull down walls, unleash the power of God and bring about reconciliation. On the cross Jesus cried, “Father forgive them” and that prayer was answered in a very powerful way.
When we choose grace over bitterness another miracle happens—we are free to move past the hurt and extend love and reconciliation to others.
Thank you, Lord, for your forgiveness—forgiveness offered while nails still pierced your hands and feet. How amazing that in the midst of unbelievable suffering this thought was uppermost in your mind. Please let this mind be in us.
Study by Cliff Neill
Grace Communion Church Luton
Farley Hill Methodist Church
North Drift Way
LUTON LU1 5JE
Local Congregational Contact: