12/16 Matthew 18:21-22

21 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?" 22 Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy- seven times.

Forgiveness is a difficult but very important task. Jesus went on to tell a parable that explained the reason we need to forgive. The parable told of a servant who was forgiven an enormous debt, but then turned around and refused to forgive a fellow servant a very small debt. His master heard about it and changed his mind about forgiving the enormous debt and had the first servant delivered to torturers until that debt was paid.

The point of the parable is that we are all forgiven by God of more than we could ever pay. Having received so much grace, we should certainly be gracious and forgiving with others. If we aren't, God will cease to be so gracious toward us. Jesus said the same in His comment on the prayer He taught to His disciples (Matthew 6:14-15). God expects us to learn from the way He deals with us.

The warning at the end of the parable is that we will face torment if we do not forgive others. The torment is often our own unforgiveness. We play the offending scenario over and over in our minds as it eats at our soul. The offender probably doesn't even remember the event, but we certainly do. Instead of letting it go and moving on, we cause ourselves to relive the painful experience again and again. Not only is unforgiveness refusing to show the mercy we have received, but it tortures us again and again. Peter was asking how many times a person might receive forgiveness from repeated acts against us. We may need to forgive the same act seventy-seven times, or every time it comes to mind until we are able to let it go.

Consider: If you allow unforgiveness to remain in your heart, you hurt yourself and those who endure the bitterness it causes in your life. Recognize how much God has forgiven you and find His strength to forgive those who have offended you.