I just read something that I never before had noticed in the Bible.
In Matthew 18, Jesus is talking about resolving disputes between fellow Christians. Jesus says, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you.” And, then he goes on to explain what to do when the situation is not resolved after taking that first step.
Peter is listening to this teaching and asks a great question, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Seven times sounds reasonable. I mean, seven is more than double current legal requirements of “three strikes” or the basketball rule of five personal fouls and you are out of the game. Seven is a pretty big number.
What makes me giggle about Peter’s question is that his brother, Andrew, was also one of the twelve disciples. Do you think Peter asked the question to highlight something that Andrew had done? If that is the case, can you imagine Andrew’s reaction?
- “Good grief. Because Mom isn’t around, he’s telling Jesus about me! What a tattle tale!!”
- “I am sooooo embarrassed!”
- “Peter, give it a rest, will you!!”
It is hilarious to think that two brothers might have argued petty differences before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!
And, even more hilarious is the answer that Peter gets to his question. Remember, Peter suggests forgiving someone seven times; seven seems like a big number. Jesus’ reply? “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven.” I can only imagine Peter’s thoughts after getting that kind of a response. Seventy times seven??
I don’t think that Jesus intended for us to keep a “forgiving count” on our family members, but to forgive every single time when someone harms us. Seventy times seven is just too large to keep track. Just keep forgiving.
Did you have a family challenge over the holidays? Did someone tattle to Mom or Dad about what you have been doing? (LOL!) Well, just keep forgiving and forgiving and forgiving.
And, why do we forgive others? Because when we ask for forgiveness, God always forgives us. It’s very simple.
“If you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” (Matthew 6:14)