Blog: How Many Times Do I Have To Forgive Em?

 

How Many Times Do I Have To Forgive Em?

Posted in: Faith | By: Dean Smith
August 1, 2011

In our frustration toward someone who keeps sinning against us, we might find ourselves, saying, “How many times do I have to forgive this person? They're driving me nuts!”
 
I’m sure most married people have thought it toward their spouse at one time or another. The question is actually flawed in nature. See, if we understood the true nature and power of forgiveness then we would never ask how many times we HAVE to forgive.
Jesus explains this the best when he is confronted by Peter with the question, “...Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 
Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven."
(Matthew 18:21-22)
 
Although, I don’t believe He wanted us to take it literally, let’s look at the numbers just for fun. He said, to forgive 70x7 times. 70x7 = 490. If you sleep eight hours each day, you’re awake 16 hours. How many minutes are in 16 hours? 960. Jesus taught us to forgive 490 times in 24 hours. 960 divided by 490 is 1.95. This means that we are to forgive the same person for the same offense once every minute and 50 seconds of every day. Jesus was letting us know that forgiveness needs to occur continually around the clock without thinking about an end. We need to live to forgive.
 
Matthew 18:35 says that we are to “forgive from our heart,” or we will be turned over to the tormentors. To be turned over to the tormentors has been explained by theologians as everything including: physical ailments, mental illnesses, demons, addictions, and self-condemnation. You may have read or spoken the Lord’s prayer, where you ask, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” (Matthew 6:14-15)
 
It is God’s law that He will forgive us as we forgive others. We are to love our neighbor as ourselves. Every time someone sins against us they injure our soul. God wants to heal us but He can’t unless we give him permission by practicing forgiveness. Jesus was trying to let us know that if we don’t forgive then He won’t be able to do the work in us that He so desperately wants to do. 
 
God expects us to put our lifestyle of forgiveness on automatic so that He can work in our life without any blockades. We trust that we can forgive anyone for anything because of God’s Holy Spirit working in us. We know that we should because it’s what He commands and because it’s the best thing for us. The more we forgive the more God can work in our life.
 
So, the question is not “how many times do we HAVE to forgive em” but how quickly, effectively, and powerfully do we want God’s Holy Spirit to be able to heal us of our own sin and give us the strength to live a blessed life of joy, peace and love.

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