Reflection from my reading in Matthew 18:21-35 in the One Year Bible New Testament.
At what point do we stop forgiving someone?
Peter came up to Jesus and asked him this.
“Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21–22
Peter was likely trying to impress Jesus with how generous he was willing to forgive someone by saying seven times. Jesus did not mean literally 70 x 7 (or 490 times) and once you get to 491, sorry no more forgiveness. Jesus made it clear that we should NEVER stop forgiving! Jesus then told a story that I will summarize.
God’s Radical Forgiveness
There was a many who owed a huge sum of money to a King, 10,000 talents, which is equivalent 150,000 year’s wages (1 Talent = 15 years of wages)! In other words that would be something that he could NEVER REPAY! Even at the world’s average income of $7,000 a year, it would be over a BILLION dollars!
He knew he would be enslaved and in debt forever, so he begged the king to have mercy on him. Out of pity, the master forgave the whole amount!
We are like the servant in this story. God has forgiven us this much! We can never pay God back the debt we owe him. But in his mercy, he forgives those of us who humble ourselves and ask for it.
Forgive As You Have Been Forgiven
This same servant who had been forgiven so much found someone who owed him a mere 100 denarii (only 100 days wages, which factoring the average current wage would be less than $2,000 USD!). Someone who was forgiven over a BILLION dollars would not forgive someone who owed him less than two thousand dollars!
When we refuse to show others the mercy, we are acting like this servant. We have been forgiven so much, we have NO RIGHT to withhold forgiveness from others. The king was very angry with the servant and asked him this,
“And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?” Matthew 18:33
We must forgive as we have been forgiven.
“At what point do you stop forgiving someone?”
We must forgive as we have been forgiven, unconditionally and radically.
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