Matthew 18:22 (ESV)
Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.
Two ten-year-olds were pouting in the corner of their classroom. It was clear that they were quite upset. The teacher approached and asked what the matter was. The smallest of the two turned around, her lips quivering. It was not yet clear whether this was from anger or from hurt:
"She…she hurt me bad!" She snapped. Then she proceeded to share her side of the story with much passion.
When the other girl was given the opportunity to reply, all she said was "I am so sorry! Can you please forgive me?"
"No way! You hurt me too bad!" The hurt girl replied.
The teacher was surprised at both responses. Never before had he heard someone, when accused, not try to defend herself. And since there had been such a beautiful apology, why hadn't the other girl accepted it?
"Why not?" He asked.
The reply of the smaller girl was curt and to the point: "I already forgave her once, and look where it brought me!"
He simply replied with a question:
"Have you ever hurt your mom or dad through your actions?"
The girl turned red and answered with hesitation: "Yes..."
"Have they ever not forgiven you?"
"Isn't it worth it to give your best friend another chance by forgiving her?"
They did make up, and they are still best friends. Had she not forgiven, however, this simple problem could potentially have undermined everything; and all because of unforgiveness!
The apostle Peter also had a problem with the notion of forgiveness. This is why he asked Jesus, in Matt 18:21: "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"
"Jesus answered, 'I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.'" (Matt 18:22 NIV)
There is peace and real living among those who can forgive through Christ.
Dear Lord, help us have a heart of forgiveness. You have forgiven us and continue even after we keep sinning. Please help us to forgive today. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.