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  • Writer's pictureAlan Fong

How Often?

Today’s Verse:

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? ~Matthew 18:21


Perhaps one of the greatest challenges of Christian life is being able to forgive. When we are hurt by someone else, the scars inflicted upon us can go very deep. This results in us becoming doubtful, suspicious, and reluctant to have any dealings with that person. An unforgiving spirit nurtures the root of bitterness within all of us. Thus, an unforgiving spirit divides friendships, strains families, splits churches, and hurts the testimony of Christ. Peter asked the question of Jesus: “How oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?”

We see the principle.

The word for “forgiveness” means “to do away with a debt.” It is a word that means to forsake and abandon. True forgiveness is cancelling a debt another person owes us. It is tearing up the indebtedness and showing there is a zero balance. True forgiveness is to model our Lord’s forgiveness of our sins. He says, “Their sins and iniquities I will remember no more.” In Ps. 103:12 God tells us, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”

We see the precept.

“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.” Peter may have been thinking about some grievances he had with other people when he asked Jesus, “How often shall I forgive my brother?” Jesus gives a powerful precept for godly living. He said, “Until seventy times seven.” The idea is we are to keep on forgiving. We are not to hold on to our grievances, grudges, reservations, and suspicions. How many of us are living with the unconfessed sin of unforgiveness? Seven is always the number of God. Seventy times seven powerfully commands us that no matter how often we are offended or hurt, we are to exercise a spirit of grace and forgiveness. Remember that forgiveness implies cancelling a debt, and there is no zero balance.

We see the parable.

Jesus drives this precept home by using a parable concerning a servant. In this parable, a servant owed his master a debt he could not payoff. The master was going to punish this servant when the servant pleaded for mercy. The master had compassion on him and forgave him his debt. However, this same servant was owed money by another servant. When he saw this debtor, he demanded payment immediately. The debtor asked for time to pay this off. Instead, the cruel servant cast him into prison. The master hearing of this was very grieved, rebuked this servant for being unjust, and subjected him to the tormentors until his debt was paid off. In effect, this cruel servant who was a beneficiary of forgiveness was unforgiving when he had an opportunity to do so. An unforgiving spirit is not taken lightly by our Lord.

We see the practice.

We are to be forgiving even as God has forgiven us and put our sin debt away. We are to be moved with a spirit of compassion and not seek retaliation or vengeance. A forgiving spirit is only possible when we are in fellowship with our Lord and always remember as God has been merciful to us, even so we should be to others.

Forgiveness is easier said than done. Our ego and pride get in the way and hinder the Spirit of God from working. How often? Seventy times seven or always!

Have a merciful God Morning!

Bible Reading Schedule: Matthew 22-23

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