Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, how many times should I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Should I forgive as many as seven times?” Jesus said, “Not just seven times, but rather as many as seventy-seven times. Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle accounts, they brought to him a servant who owed him ten thousand bags of gold. Because the servant didn’t have enough to pay it back, the master ordered that he should be sold, along with his wife and children and everything he had, and that the proceeds should be used as payment. But the servant fell down, kneeling before him, and said, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I’ll pay you back.’ The master had compassion on that servant, released him, and forgave the loan. “When that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him one hundred coins. He grabbed him around the throat and said, ‘Pay me back what you owe me.’ “Then his fellow servant fell down and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I’ll pay you back.’ But he refused. Instead, he threw him into prison until he paid back his debt. “When his fellow servants saw what happened, they were deeply offended. They came and told their master all that happened. His master called the first servant and said, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you appealed to me. Shouldn’t you also have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ His master was furious and handed him over to the guard responsible for punishing prisoners, until he had paid the whole debt. “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you if you don’t forgive your brother or sister from your heart” (Matthew 18:21-35, Common English Bible).
Do you ever get the feeling that sometimes Jesus is just plain unreasonable? I mean really. I am supposed to forgive the person who does something (sin) against me 490 times? That isn’t even realistic is it? That means I am supposed to keep track of how many times I get hurt by the people, all the people in my life, right? Each of them get 77 times according to our lesson while other translations say 70×7 or 490 times to take a literal reading of the text. I guess we should all go out and buy us a pocket ledger book so we don’t miss any. But, with today’s smart phones, I don’t really need to keep a pocket ledger, I can keep it right on my phone and I always (well almost always) have that with me. That would make it super easy to keep track and once that 490 times is up, well they are gone, out of my life!
I am speaking tongue-and-cheek of course. If we are attempting to keep track of the sins of others, I think it is a pretty good chance that we are totally missing Jesus’ point. I don’t think it is even realistic to think we can keep track of all those statistics, especially for we arithmophobics who suffer from dyscalculia (really I don’t know that I suffer from either, I just know I don’t remember numbers very well).
Jesus’ point here is, as long as we have people in our lives, we need to keep forgiving and keep forgiving and keep forgiving. If we are keeping track, we probably have failed to forgive, and if we fail to forgive, we shouldn’t be expecting God to forgive us. If all sins are sins against God, and God keeps track, be it 77 times or 490 or in between or considerably more, there is no hope for any of us. Because there is more grace in God than there is sin in us, we also need to strive to have that kind of grace within us toward those who share our world.
How do you move past the numbers to keep on forgiving?
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Joy and Thanksgiving,
Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved