In Matthew 18:21, Peter answered a question by asking another question, “Then Peter came up and said to Jesus, “Lord, how many times shall my brother sin against me and I still forgive him? Up to seven times?” Peter was letting Jesus know how spiritual he was, “I am willing to forgive someone seven times.” However, he was challenged and convicted by the answer of Jesus in verse 22, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy-seven times” which also can be translated “70 X 7”. In other words, maintain an attitude of forgiveness.
Why should I maintain a forgiving attitude? “Candidly, I am bitter.” Hebrews 12:15 gives you an electric answer, “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up causing trouble, and by it many become defiled.”
We have two responsibilities regarding the process of forgiveness. First, remain in His grace forgiving others even those who are a continual pain in the backside or have hurt you deeply. We can’t do this on our own strength and must turn to the empowerment of the Holy Spirit within us enabling us to forgive. Second, take the transgressor off your hook and put them on God’s hook. Let God take care of him/her. I assure you He will do it in a fair and impartial manner. Romans 12:18&19 is clear, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all people. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God.” God will repay. Galatians 6:8 guarantees recompense from our just God who at the same time mercifully and gracefully encourages the victim, “For the one who sows to his own flesh will reap destruction from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.”
Matthew 18:23-35 presents an ultra-forceful story regarding forgiveness. It’s a bit long but well worth the read, “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
Forgive 70 x 7…