21 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, how many times should I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Should I forgive as many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said, “Not just seven times, but rather as many as seventy-seven times.
Sometimes I am kind of a math geek. When my kids were younger, they always challenged me to say the exact price of a restaurant meal whenever we were eating out. Often, I’d come within a buck or two by using mental math. A few times, I was way off. This story reminds me of the “calculations” Peter was making when asking Jesus about forgiveness.
Also, sometimes I like to read different versions of this scripture. When Jesus was asked, “How many times should I forgive,” this CEB version says the equivalent of “77 times” but the King James Version says, “seventy times seven” or 490 times. So which is it, Lord?
When we are thinking this way, we are stuck in the same mental trap that Peter was stuck in. It’s score keeping. If you have siblings or an extended family unit, you probably know what I mean! Nobody knows how to torture us better than our own families, especially our sisters and brothers. But forgiveness, as it is given, is still a gift first given to us by God, without score keeping.
Therefore, forgiveness is the gift we must still “gift-away” wholeheartedly. It is something that we believe in and integral to our Christian faith. That means that we can’t live in a state of anger, guilt or resentment. We can’t keep score. We can’t hold our feelings in reserve; waiting for the other person to screw up, again, or by saying, “I told you so.” Sincere forgiveness means that we must open our hearts, mercifully expecting and praying for lasting change first within ourselves.
By Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
As we pray for forgiveness today, let us pray that God helps us develop true hearts of mercy without score keeping. No matter who or what we need to forgive, when we sincerely develop hearts of forgiveness, maybe then we can unburden ourselves of the anger, resentment and pain that holds us back in our relationships to others, ourselves, and God. Perhaps forgiveness is the only way to feel this lasting healing.
Prayer: Gracious God, Thank you for forgiving my transgressions. Please help me to let go of any anger and resentment that I hold onto for….[add your own thoughts]. May this be the way for me to find lasting healing. May I know the forgiveness that truly draws me closer to you. Amen.