When we are hurt by others, our natural response is to strike back, lash out hurt the others as we have been hurt. Yet, in the Lord’s Prayer Jesus tells us “forgive those who trespass against us”. Jesus gives us two very good reasons for forgiving others. First, that our own sins might be forgiven: “if you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your father forgive your transgressions” Mt 6:14. Second, will you forgive so that our prayers will be heard: “when you stand to pray, forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance, so that your heavenly father may intern forgive you your transgressions” Mark 11:25.

Peter  asks the question, “How many times do I have to do this? Seven times?”

Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven, but up to seventy times seven.” As many as it takes! In other words, when I forgive somebody who has sinned against me, what does it mean to forgive them? If I say “I forgive you,” that’s a very weighty pronouncement. When God forgives you, He holds that sin against you no more. And if you sin again against Him and He forgives you again, He doesn’t say, “That’s two…” because the first one has already been wiped away.

And that’s what we don’t do. Somebody sins against us, asks for our forgiveness, we give our forgiveness, they do it again and we say, “That’s two…” which reveals that we didn’t really forgive them the first time. Because if we really grant forgiveness, we are saying, “I remember this against you no more.”

Jeff Bates