June 9

Text: Matthew 18:21, 22

Then Peter came and said to Him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?"   Jesus *said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” (NASB)

There are spiritual realities we love to receive generously but we do not wish to give generously.  “What qualities?”  Oh . . . things like compassion, mercy, kindness, and FORGIVENESS.  “God, when (if?) I need such things, please do not hesitate to give them to me in ABUNDANCE.  Please help me give such things freely to the people I LOVE.”

What about your enemies?  “Surely, you must be kidding!”  Is that what you think?  How often do you find it necessary to give those you LOVE compassion, mercy, kindness, or forgiveness?  Observation: If we frequently have to give such things to those we LOVE, it will not be long before we stop loving them!  In fact, they might go quickly from our “love” category to our “hate” category.  Have you ever noticed how quickly in a marriage a person can go from the love vows in a church building to “make him/her pay” in a divorce attorney’s office?  Humans who can love passionately can hate passionately—the same person!

The problem: With qualities like forgiveness people close to us rarely need them, but enemies need them abundantly and frequently. 

It is not unusual to observe a vengeful person who was not a Christian become a forgiving Christian who displays remarkable compassion and kindness.  Why?  For two reasons.  (1) The person has changed.  (2) Adopting Jesus’ values changed him/her.

The Bible refers to that change as transformation.  This English word is used to translate the Greek word that notes the change from caterpillar to butterfly.

Peter’s suggestion was likely quite generous—how often do you truly forgive more than three times?  Jesus’ answer was not a “wrong number” answer, but an unending answer—like a zillion times.  Why would Jesus give an answer like that?  Because . . . that is how God forgives us.  We do as He does!

Suggestion for reflection: Describe your willingness to forgive.  (Read Romans 12:1-8.)

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