Romans 3:23 reminds each of us that we have all miss the mark of God’s righteous and in I John 1:9 we are equally reminded that when we confess our sins to He remains faithful to not only forgive us, but He will also cleanse us of all unrighteousness.
Let’s be honest, when we miss God’s bull’s eye of righteousness we still seek out God’s forgiveness, but why is it so challenging to forgive our brothers and sisters when they ‘miss the mark’ within our relationships?
Jesus said we should forgive someone seventy times seven in response to a question from Peter about how many times to forgive a brother who sins against him. Peter asks if forgiving seven times is appropriate, and Jesus responds “not seven times, but seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22). On one level, this number is wordplay—Jesus is taking the number that Peter gave and one-upping it, changing Peter’s expectations.
The parable Jesus tells after giving this instruction highlights what he means by “seventy times seven.” He tells a parable about an unmerciful servant who has amassed an impossibly large debt but is forgiven for it. The servant is described as owing 10,000 talents (Matthew 18:24) – as a footnote in the NIV translation states, a single talent was 20 years of wages for a day laborer. So, this servant owed a debt in the millions, a debt that given his job and status, he couldn’t possibly accumulate in the real world. Even in the modern-day world when some people rack up thousands of dollars of gambling debts, no bookmaker or employer would be stupid enough to lend that much money. Jesus is exaggerating to make a point about how huge the debt is, that it’s impossible to pay back. In the same way, when Jesus says “seventy times seven,” He is creating a number so large that counting it would be ridiculous. You could try to mark every time you’ve forgiven somebody for a while, telling yourself, “Well, seventy times seven is 490, once they’ve hit 491, it’s all over…” However, the work to track your forgiveness for that long would be silly. So, the point is to FORGIVE regardless of the number of offenses because we can’t put a number on forgiveness. We must forgive people always, without putting a limit on it.
I know the argument because I’ve unapologetically defended it before. Are we to forgive and pardon the offender at the same time? Well, read Matthew 18:15:20 because just before Jesus talked about 70×7 he gave a teaching on what to do if a believer sins against another believer.
Obviously, this is an exhaustive topic with many nuisances to factor and even more opinions to debate and with that being said I will close with this; there are still consequences for sin. If a person has not fully repented of their sin, then they should not be fully trusted as if they’re an innocent person. However, you should always forgive them and let go of the resentment towards them because hating them actually steals, kills, and destroys your personal joy and peace! (Sounds familiar, right…..read John 10:10)