Seventy Times Seven

Matthew 18:21-35 “Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘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. Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. ‘Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.’”

Long passage, but it has been on my mind today. It will really rock your world if you let it. Too often as Christians, we let things bug us. People get on our nerves or flat out offend us. Sometimes they legitimately hurt us. But what is our response? It can make the difference in eternity.

So first, the servant is brought before the king with an insurmountable debt. He begs for mercy and is forgiven a debt that he never could have paid. He promptly goes and finds a fellow servant and demands a few dollars from him and shows no mercy. You can imagine why the king responded the way he did.

Let’s put this in real life. We hold a debt to God that we can never pay. He has forgiven us for things that we could never make up for. The Bible says that the wages of sin is death. The payment for the wrong that we have done is death. But instead we have been forgiven and given life.

And in return, we find someone that we feel owes us and won’t forgive them. Why? What makes us feel that we have the right? I think more often than not, we forget the debt that we have been forgiven. Then when we hold something against another person, we put ourselves in a place of torment. Verse 34 says torturers, other versions say tormentors. We never really hurt the person that we don’t forgive, we really only ever hurt ourselves. The torment in your mind is unbearable.

The other thing that unforgiveness does is that it separates us from God. We can’t hear His voice anymore. It makes it so that the only thing that we can think about it is what we think is owed us. And because we can’t hear His voice, we aren’t walking in obedience to Him.

The last thing that unforgiveness and bitterness does is that it drives people away from you. Your closest friends and family will begin to get distant. The only time they stay close is when they themselves are harboring unforgiveness. Then it becomes misery and company. But those that don’t will subconsciously step away because of the things that you allow in through the unforgiveness and the torment.

Legitimately, there are times when it hurts deeply. People do things that are wrong to us: physically, mentally or emotionally. Forgiving them isn’t saying that what they did was right. Forgiving them is moving on and not letting it hold on to you. It is trusting in God and looking to Him instead of to the circumstance. Forgiveness is moving forward and keeping your heart right with God.

Let God shape the way you think. Remember that it is seventy times seven, not so that we keep account, but so that we don’t live in torment. Forgive so that your Father can forgive you. It’s like a faucet. You can’t turn it off to those around you and expect that it is still going to flow from above. Forgiveness is the only option in light of eternity.

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