Our scripture this week is Matthew 18:21-35.
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. 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. 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.”
Peter asks a question that indicates he’s not quite to the point Jesus would hope for us. By asking for a number of times to forgive someone he shows that he still thinks in human terms of limits. While Jesus gives a number as an answer, He doesn’t want us to count or keep track at all.
Remembering how many times we should forgive someone shouldn’t even enter our thinking. Jesus gives us a lesson about this that uses money as an example, but the fact is that forgiveness covers much more than financial obligations. If we keep track of how much we forgive, we must also record how often and how much we have been forgiven.
Jesus tells us how this kind of thinking is inconsistent with the kingdom of God. Forgiveness is to be given freely because God in His mercy has forgiven us all our sins. Jesus doesn’t ask how many times we’ve been forgiven to determine if we’re still eligible, He just loves us all.
Gracious God, we are often petty in our dealings with each other, forgetting how much You love and forgive us. Help us to be caring to our brothers and sisters who need our love and forgiveness. Amen.