“Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” –Matthew 18:21-22.
Marghanita Laski was born in 1915 to a family of thinkers. Her father, grandfather, and uncle were all renowned intellectuals, and it seemed that from a young age she was destined to follow in their footsteps. After schooling, she became an author, radio host, and television persona. She also helped with the penning of much of the Oxford English Dictionary. But she was most known for her staunch atheistic beliefs. She held tightly to the belief that there was no supreme being, let alone a God who cared. She criticized Christianity and hated those who followed it. Near the end of Laski’s life, she surprised many by revealing on television her true feelings. The well-known atheist and secular humanist admitted, “What I envy most about you Christians is your forgiveness; I have nobody to forgive me.”
Marghanita was right that Christianity should be characterized by forgiveness. Christ forgave us, and we ought to forgive others.
As we see in our verses today, Peter, one of the more outspoken and straightforward disciples, asked Jesus how often we are to forgive those who wrong us. In essence Peter asked, “I understand we are supposed to forgive others. But what if they continue to wrong us? What if they wrong us seven times? Should I forgive them seven times?”
That’s a very real situation some Christians face. They work next to, live near, or interact with people who seem to thrive on continual criticism, negativity, and hurtful words. Sometimes it becomes so unbearable and responding with love and forgiveness becomes tougher. How do we act then?
Jesus’ answer to Peter is very convicting. He responds, “Not seven times, Peter, but seventy times seven.” Basically, Christ shows us that we are to never stop forgiving those who wrong us, even those who continue to wrong us with no thought of remorse.
Forgiveness isn’t easy, even when done once, but to continually forgive someone who seems apathetic and unapologetic for their actions takes godly strength. It takes strength to accept what has been done and offer forgiveness when everything inside you wants to seek revenge.
Think of some of the Christians of the past who have had to offer forgiveness in some very difficult situations. From the persecution of early church and the martyrs during the Roman Inquisition to the persecuted Christians today, Christians have offered forgiveness to their persecutors. If God can help those believers who were martyred for their faith offer forgiveness, He can help us offer forgiveness to those around us—not once or twice, but even seventy times seven times.
One of the greatest testimonies of God’s grace is the ability to forgive those who wrong you. Nothing speaks to someone more than an unforced forgiveness. It shows that unlike those who would seek revenge or retaliation, God truly works in the lives of His children.
What difficult situation are you in right now that requires your forgiveness of someone? Who has wronged you lately? God doesn’t say offering forgiveness will be easy, nor does He promise that others will react positively, but He commands you to forgive those who wrong you. Seek peace with those who have wronged you today. Refuse to give in to the natural feelings of anger and retribution, and follow God’s command to forgive others seventy times seven times.
–From “Daily in the Word”