“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.”
Many times when we’re asked to do something difficult or something we don’t want to do, our first response is to find out the bare minimum required in order to still be in compliance. As a student, I always wanted to know how little I could get by with to make a grade that would keep me out of trouble. And let’s face it, forgiving others, as we discussed in yesterday’s devotional, is usually the last thing we want to do. It certainly goes against our nature.
Peter was actually aiming for teacher’s pet status with his question. According to common rabbinical teaching, a person only needed to forgive his brother three times at most. Peter doubled that and added one for good measure. But Jesus’ response eclipsed Peter’s most generous suggestion. Jesus wasn’t giving a set number of times with his answer. Rather, he was implying that Peter was missing the point entirely.
To be a follower of Christ (a disciple) means to live and love like him. And Jesus lived and loved with incredible generosity. Forgiveness is one of the most powerful forms of love that we can display. Later Paul would write to the Corinthian church explaining what godly love looks like, and one of love’s characteristics – it keeps no record of wrongs.
So stop counting, and start living with the generous love that our savior has shown to each of us.
While using the HEAR method (see below) consider the following questions:
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how easy do you find it to forgive others?
- Do you have someone in your life who is a repeat offender? Do you find yourself keeping record of how many times you have to forgive them?
- In what areas have you been a repeat offender to God or to others?
Highlight – what words or phrases jump out at you?
Explain – what does the passage mean?
Apply – how does the passage intersect with your life today?
Respond – how is God leading you to respond?
Jon Price, Associate Pastor