“Then Peter came up and said to him, “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 (ESV)

Two things I have learned about the context of this passage is that Jesus was referring  back to Genesis 4:24 when the word says, “If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.” That is so interesting to me because of the second thing I learned about this scripture. Jesus surely didn’t want us to stop forgiving at 490 times, right? Wouldn’t it make more sense for him to be making a point that our forgiveness should go beyond what is normal? In that time forgiveness was said to be given up to 3 times, so Peter suggesting 7 was very out of the ordinary and extremely generous. Of course Jesus takes this further and challenges us to forgive, always. Jesus is showing here that his forgiveness goes beyond the normal 3 times, and far beyond the very generous 7 times that Peter suggests. It’s unlimited; And we are called to be Holy like Christ. Our forgiveness should mirror His.

But… Jesus is Jesus. I am not.
You are not. Forgive every person, every time?  Seriously?

Let me be real. Forgiveness is hard for me because I am a sinner full of pride. I don’t want to forgive someone who has done something wrong to me. I want an apology and I want them to have some sort of consequence because they did ME wrong. You may be wondering, “How is that considered pride? Isn’t that just wanting justice? Aren’t you just requesting for fair treatment?” What is wrong with someone receiving an apology and then forgiving them IF you WANT to?

The problem with that lies in two things…

_One is that it doesn’t mirror Christ accurately.

Christ was humble and forgiving regardless of his mockers and regardless of what the people did against him. “…He gave himself up for us while we were still sinners…” (Romans 5:8). And he is “…merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him.” (Dan 9:9).

_The second is that it puffs me up in pride.

Who am I to say that a sin committed against me is any worse than the sins I commit every day? The bottom line is all sin that is committed ultimately is against God. You are not my enemy, I am my own worst enemy. Focusing on someone else’s sin gets my eyes off of my own sin and has me more concerned with yours. The enemy LOVES that. He loves when I focus more on other people and what they are doing instead of allowing God to slay my heart and make me more like Christ. He doesn’t want me to, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Eph. 4:31-32) and he most definitely doesn’t want me to “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Col 3:13)

My aim as a Christian is to become Holy, as Christ is Holy.

(2 Cor 7:1, 1 Peter 1:15-16, Hebrews 12:14).

In order to do that we must focus first on His goodness. Secondly we have to focus on the radical corruption in our heart apart from Him. And lastly we have to be in the word allowing the Holy Spirit to transform us (Hebrews 4:12).

Brothers and sisters, join me in forgiveness.

Join me in laying down my pride and saying, “I am no better than any other. I forgive you, I am a worse sinner than you. I deserved hell and the Lord rescued me. I have no right to hold condemnation toward you because He has not held it against me. I will live like Christ, not like the devil.”

Die to yourself.

Paul said, “To live is Christ, to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:21)

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