488, 489, 490 . . .
There is no limitation on the number of times we should forgive. We don’t forgive because a person deserves it, but because God alone will judge and repay. The fact that a person has been forgiven does not mean that they will not be required to make amends in some way – especially if they have committed a crime, for example.
Jesus taught that they will have to pay the full price for their action, to make amends to those who’ve been wronged. But bringing people to moral and spiritual justice is God’s job, not ours. We should never build our lives around seeing others brought to judgement, especially when we are the ones who’ve been hurt. We may sometimes be God’s instrument in bringing correction to someone else, but that shouldn’t be our obsession.
It says in Matthew 18:22 ‘Jesus answered, “I tell you, [you should forgive] not seven times, but seventy times seven.’ (KJV)
Jesus taught that forgiveness must be an ongoing and persistent choice in my life. His disciples asked him how many times they should forgive an offense: should they forgive seven times, for example? Jesus replied, ‘Not seven, but seventy times seven.’ He wasn’t giving a number to be taken literally. He wasn’t saying that we should forgive someone up to 490 times and no more. After all, imagine you did try to forgive someone 490 times for the same offense – it’s beyond imagining, and that’s what Jesus meant.
Because of that we want to keep our hearts clear before God, and move into a healthy and fulfilling future. Therefore whether we feel like it or not we will choose to forgive, as many times as it takes.
Prayer: ‘Jesus, please help me to forgive others as you forgive me – as many times as it takes. I know that you will hold people accountable for the things they do to me, and I choose to release that into your hands.’