“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 70 times 7” (Matthew 18:21-22).
That’s 490 times! By this, Jesus meant no limits should be set. We should not keep track of how many times we forgive someone. We should always forgive the person who is truly repentant no matter how many times they ask.
To illustrate this point, Jesus told a story about two servants’ who were in debt (Matthew 18:21-35). Jesus told about a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. One servant owed a large amount: 10,000 talents (a talent was about 60 pounds of gold, so 10,000 talents equaled a few million dollars). When he could not pay, the master ordered that the servant, his wife, children, and possessions be sold so he could repay as much of the debt as possible. The servant pleaded with his master, begging for time to repay his debt. The master took pity on the servant, canceled the debt, and set him free.
But shortly later, this servant went out and found another servant who owed him a much smaller amount: 100 denarii (a denarius was a Roman coin, worth about 16 cents; it was worth one day’s wage). The first servant demanded payment and refused to show mercy toward his debtor. In fact he had the second servant thrown into prison until he paid the debt. The other servants, aware of all that had happened were greatly distressed and told their master what had happened. The master called back the first servant and jailed him for failing to show mercy to a fellow servant when he had been forgiven a much greater debt. The first servant had been forgiven, and he in turn should have also forgiven.
Jesus not only taught about forgiveness, He also demonstrates His own willingness to forgive. He forgave the women caught in adultery (John 8:3-11). He forgave Peter for denying He knew Jesus. He forgave the criminal on the cross (Luke 23:39-43). He forgave those who crucified Him (Luke 23:34). He is even willing to forgive you and me for the sins we have commit. Jesus forgives all who come to Him through repentant faith.
A child of God has had all his sins forgiven by faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore when someone sins against us, we ought to be willing to forgive from the heart no matter how many times the act occurs. Because God has forgiven all our sins, we should not withhold forgiveness from others. Recognizing how completely Christ has forgiven us will produce an attitude of forgiveness toward others.