5 Question 2

Let’s look at the portion that you are referring to in Matthew 18:21-22.  It says, “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.”  That’s a lot of forgiveness.  How many times is that?  It’s 490 times we are told to forgive our brother.  How are we supposed to keep up with those numbers?  Should we write them all down and keep good records of the times we forgive others?  I believe the intent of the Lord here is that we continue to forgive.  We don’t keep count.  Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 13:5, reading from the New American Standard version.  It says that love, “does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered.”  That basically means that, in love, we should not keep account of the wrongs that we suffer.  Surely, if we don’t keep up with the wrongs suffered, why would we keep up with the forgiveness given?  God is a god of forgiveness and He expects us, who have been forgiven, to show forgiveness to others.

Sometimes we don’t think we can forgive someone and sometimes we simply don’t want to forgive someone when we are hurt or offended so badly.  The Bible teaches us that forgiveness is something we do have control over.  Colossians 3:12-13 says, “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”  We can see that we not only have the power to forgive, we have the instruction to forgive.

What if someone doesn’t want or doesn’t care about our forgiveness?  Are we supposed to forgive that person?  Realistically, forgiveness is for our own good.  When I refuse to let go when someone hurts me, when I hold a grudge against my brother, or when I become consumed with how bad I was treated, I am hurting and limiting myself.  We are sometimes stopped in our labors for the Lord because we refuse to forgive.

There are blessings for those who will forgive and show mercy to those who have offended them.  Matthew 5:7 says, “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.”  Surely, we who know what it is to be forgiven of our sins should be so quick to forgive others.  We show forgiveness because we have truly learned what it is to be forgiven.  Of course, when there is confession and a true desire to be forgiven, the forgiveness will help restore a broken relationship.

The Word instructs us to seek the forgiveness and reconciliation of those that we have offended.  Matthew 5:23-24 tells us, “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.”  So, if there is someone that needs our forgiveness, let’s give it.  If we need to seek the forgiveness of someone, let’s do it quickly and be reconciled to our brother or sister in Christ.