Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “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 seven, but seventy-seven times.”
…that’s a lot. The story goes on to talk about the servant who could not come up with the money he owed his master. He begged and pleaded, and the master ended up canceling the debt. After his debt was forgiven, the servant went out and found another fellow servant and demanded the money owed to him. He did not demonstrate the same compassion and forgiveness shown to him.
God does not want us to keep track of how many times we forgive someone. He wants our forgiveness to be from the heart. I get that in my head and understand the spiritual meaning. Imagine if God used up His quota of forgiveness on us. “I’m sorry, you’ve sinned beyond your monthly allotment. I don’t rollover forgiveness minutes. You are out of luck.” The part of my life that is struggling with this is my real life… not the one I play on TV.
Have you ever had that person that pushes your forgiveness buttons? Challenges your faith and God’s call on your life to love your neighbor? You forgive over and over, while they run out and demand payment from you and others? To quote some kids I know… “that’s not fair.” Boy, do I grapple with this. I run things over and over in my head and heart. Each time I’m brought back to how much I am loved by my Heavenly Papa and I melt into a puddle. Darn it, Lord, it’s hard to be mad when you grab my heart. Still, it’s not easy. He grabs, I fold, and then soon I am back needing to live Matthew 18 again. I think this issue with this particular person is the most difficult struggle in my life. I can go from zero to indignant faster than you can say ‘forgiveness.’ I’m a bit slower to come back around to the forgiveness and love thy neighbor part.
I truly believe that we will all stand before our Maker one day and be accountable for every breath we’ve taken. I really have to hold on to that one and let go of the anger and indignation I feel. God loves this person as much as He loves me… really? Some days that is hard to believe. But, when I let Him grab hold of me, I can’t deny it. In the end, He is the righteous judge of all… not me (although I have held court many a time in my head.) He is the only one who can make or break the situation… not me. He is the ultimate healer and merciful God… not me. I’m just me… human, fallible, and… forgiven…