Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times”.
Forgive and forget.
Peter was certainly comfortable with that principle. After all, hadn’t Jesus already taught him that if he forgave others when they sinned against him, his heavenly Father would also forgive him? And hadn’t the sacrificial system he had grown up with taught him that God forgives the sins of his people?
Yes, Peter was certainly comfortable with forgiveness—seven times. But seventy-seven times?
Unfortunately, all of us since Adam are like Peter in this respect—all except one. John Flavel reminds us to imitate him who is infinite forgiveness.
WALK WITH JOHN FLAVEL
“Imitate our pattern Christ and labor for meek forgiving spirits. I shall only propose two reasons for doing so: for the honor of Christ, and for your own peace. His glory is more than your life, and all that you enjoy in this world. Oh, do not expose it to the scorn and derision of his enemies. Let them not say, ‘How is Christ a lamb, when his followers are lions? How is the church a dove, that smites and scratches like a bird of prey?’
“Consider also the quiet of your own heart. What is life worth, without the comfort of life? What comfort can you have in all that you possess in the world as long as you do not have possession of your own soul? If inside you are full of tumult and revenge, the Spirit of Christ will become a stranger to you; that dove delights in a clean and quiet heart. Oh, then imitate Christ in this excellency also!”
WALK CLOSER TO GOD
The rest of the chapter is the parable of the unmerciful servant. The main character refused to forgive as he had been forgiven. Notice that he was “handed … over to the jailers to be tortured” (Matthew 18:34).
Are you “tortured” by an unforgiving spirit? Ephesians 4:32 has the answer: Meditate on Christ’s forgiveness. There is no better way to cultivate your own.