“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
There are many instances in life where forgiveness is extraordinarily difficult. For a parent grieving the loss of their child in a senseless school shooting, a man whose wife left him for another, or perhaps a woman dealing with the aftermath of sexual abuse… (the list could go on)…, how does anyone forgive a person who has caused so much pain and heartbreak? Can you or better yet, should you forgive in these situations?
In these cases, forgiveness can sometimes seem not only impossible, but irresponsible in the name of justice. So, should we really forgive all those who harm us? Unsurprisingly, Jesus had a lot to say on this very topic and chose to communicate this life lesson through yet another story. You can read the complete parable in Matthew 18: 21-35.
A man was in tremendous debt to the king – 10,000 talents. Now, a talent was about 72 pounds of a precious metal. If that metal was gold, one talent today would equal roughly $1.6 million. Now multiply that by 10,000. The amount of debt owed by this man was impossible to repay in a lifetime. The king knew this and ordered the man, his family, and all their possessions sold to pay the debt. The man fell to the ground and begged the king for mercy. In an incredible act of compassion – the king forgave this great debt.
The point of the story is that just like the king forgave an impossible debt, God forgives us of our impossible to pay sin debt. There’s nothing we can do, say, or offer to compensate for the penalty our sin demands – which is death. But God, in a tremendous act of compassion and mercy offers us complete forgiveness through Christ, who paid that sin debt for us by taking our place on the cross.
In the same way, we are to show a similar attitude of compassion and forgiveness towards those who hurt or wrong us. This isn’t done to earn God’s forgiveness, but out of gratitude for what He’s done for us. After all, when we truly realize the magnitude of God’s forgiveness towards us, the easier it is to forgive others for wounds both big and small. So, the answer to the question at the beginning is, “Yes.” Who do you need to forgive today?