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How Many Times Do I Forgive?
“Lord, how many times should I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” This is Peter’s question to Jesus in Matthew 18. I suspect Peter thought he was being generous here. After all, the person who is sinning against Peter is a repeat offender. Where do you draw the line? Where do you set the boundary?
“I tell you, not seven times, but seventy seven times (or seventy times seven depending upon what translation of Matthew you are reading)” is Jesus’ response. Does Jesus mean exactly 77 times, but offense number 78 that’s it? That’s one way of looking at it. However, seven in Hebrew numerology means wholeness or complete. It’s perfect. When Jesus says not seven times, but seventy seven times, it is a way of drawing us to the perfect character of God who embodies forgiveness. The number is not actually about the number. What Jesus requires of us is becoming the type of people who live out forgiveness on a daily basis.
This means that forgiveness is not an individual event. That’s how Peter viewed forgiveness. How many individual events of forgiveness should I grant? For Jesus, forgiveness is like breathing. Forgiveness is so ingrained in us that what naturally comes out is a lifestyle of forgiveness.
Forgiveness then is a habit that we embody
. Part of our goal for our Lent series called Living Forgiveness is to help you embody the habit of forgiveness. Prayer is an essential strategy to developing the habit of forgiveness. Prayer brings us into the presence and character of God, and places the character of God on our lips. That is why we are scheduling and challenging you to pray with us four times a day prayers that will place forgiveness and confession upon your lips. We have provided a sheet with the prayers and the times we will be praying: 9:15 AM, 11:30 AM, 2:00 PM, 7:00 PM. We are also providing a way for you to receive text message reminders to pray. If you would like these reminders, you can text Cbcpray to 84576. Join us in praying for forgiveness in order that we may forgive