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.
A hallmark of God’s grace is that it is unlimited. It is sufficient for everything for which we need it, and He pours it out to us liberally. And so the mark of His people should be a reservoir of grace to extend to others. So often it seems we are willing to place limits on things, like Peter does here. We’re only willing to be pushed so far or to take so much. And when something goes beyond those arbitrary standards we set, than all bets are off. At that point, we may feel like we’re just setting ourselves up to be taken advantage of, and our pride doesn’t want that to happen.
So Jesus’ answer is both a challenge and a command. In fact, Jesus says that we won’t be forgiven if we don’t forgive others. He says that we have been forgiven of much, so we should forgive others for those little offenses that come against us. He says to forgive seventy times seven, as many times as it takes. It’s not about keeping track and keeping score, but it is about obedience to God.
But it’s hard to forgive sometimes. People do horrendous things. Sometimes we are hurt in significant ways. But that’s why we can’t trust our own fleshly reactions to those types of situations. That’s why we can’t reason it out and measure things by our own made-up standards. That’s why we don’t judge someone else as worthy or unworthy of forgiveness, but we do what we know is right and let God handle the rest. Because the bitterness that results from unforgiveness only eats us up and hinders our relationship with God and could end up hurting us even more than whatever we are unwilling to forgive.
May there be no limit to the grace we are willing to extend to others, just as there is no limit when God extends His grace to us. He casts our sin into the depths of the sea and remembers it no more, so He’s not keeping track of how many times He’s forgiven us and setting limits on how many times He will do so. Love is willing to extend grace and forgiveness every time, in any circumstance, to anyone who truly seeks forgiveness. So may we be imitators of our God and have a forgiving heart that matches His.