img_7794Sometimes when I process some of the things Jesus said, I’m tempted to say, “You’ve got to be kidding me!”

I think Peter had one of those moments when Jesus answered his question.

The hot headed, impulsive Peter asked,
“Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Matthew 18:21

That’s pretty generous, don’t you think? You forgive them once a day for a week. If someone can’t get their act together by Sunday church, forget them.

But Jesus replied,
“I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven.”
Matthew 18:22

That’s one a day for over a year! Really?? If they keep sinning against me that long, can’t I even do something to them that tags them as a “persistent offender?”

I used to think Jesus meant forgiving multiple people, but a closer look shows Peter’s question to be about one person — perhaps someone who had gotten on his last nerve.

When God forgives, He says He remembers our sin no more.
“I will forgive their wickedness and remember their sins no more.”
Hebrews 8:12

However, most of us do not forgive as God does. Most of us have a file labeled “past sins.” When someone sins against us, we go to the file and remember clearly the sins they have committed in the past.

This gives satan an open door to our thinking. We start to think, “They’ll never change.” And if our thoughts spill over into accusing Words, we may convince the other person they cannot change.

Very quickly present offenses become more about the offender and us, the victims. We feel the present wrong. We feel the sting of past wrongs. We feel distrust.

If we forgive them one more time, are we not just giving the message their behavior is acceptable to us? How will they ever change unless we teach them a lesson by withholding forgiveness this time?

But it is God Who wants to teach us. Forgiveness begins as a Gift of Freedom to us.

We don’t have to run a prison, punish, keep a file or even make the effort to remember anything except The Mercy and Grace God has extended to us. We are free!

Jesus said,
“As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
John 13:34

Peter came to a place of fear in his life, where three times he denied even knowing Jesus. And yet, after Jesus returned from the grave, there is no indication He ever demanded any penance from Peter.

It appears Jesus included Peter in His Merciful Prayer to The Father when He said,
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Luke 23:34

When Jesus talked to Peter, it was about Love. He asked Peter three times if he loved Him. Peter assured Him he did. Did Jesus really need that much reassurance from Peter? No, Jesus asked in order to give Peter the opportunity to tell Jesus he loved him.

Jesus told Peter how he could prove that Love.
“Feed My Lambs.”
“Take care of My Sheep.”
“Feed My Sheep.”
John 21:15-17

“As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
John 13:34

Take a moment and think back over your life. How many times has God forgiven you? How many times has Jesus spoken to The Father about you, saying with Love, “Father forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.”

How many times do you forgive that persistent offender? Well, The Truth is, if we truly forgive as God does, they will not be a persistent offender to us. Any time they sin against us will be as if it were the first time, because we will have no prior file on them!

Oh Lord, teach us how to love one another, as You have loved us!

 

About carolynpriesterjones

Follower of Jesus, Seeker of Truth, Commentator on Life, Light Bearer, Water Carrier, one of God’s Creations still under construction

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