490 Moments Of Forgiveness Is A Good Start
There's this moment in the Gospel of Matthew that I wish wasn't there.
Peter asks Jesus about forgiveness--specifically about how many times you should forgive someone who continues to wound you.
Peter thought he was being generous when he asks and then answers his own question: "How many times should I forgive? Seven?"
I'd like to imagine that Peter is thinking what most of us would think: "Seven times is pretty much the absolute limit when it comes to forgiving someone who's wronged you... Three is my limit, but seven... now that's downright holy. You'd have to be a saint to forgive that many times."
And then Jesus says, "Yeah, here's the deal... You should forgive up to seventy times seven times."
There it is. The moment I wish wasn't there.
Jesus takes what Peter thinks is a holy number and then multiplies it so it becomes a number that is completely out of reach when it comes to those who have wounded us or the people we love.
What Jesus was trying to say here was simply this. Your ideas of what is enough... aren't enough. Forgiveness is something that has been offered to you over and over again by God, and you are called to offer it with as much generosity to others.
Jesus wasn't advocating for his followers to put themselves in danger, or to continue in toxic relationships. He just wanted them to live in such a way that they would default toward forgiveness and grace when it came to their relationships with other people.
Forgiveness is hard. Especially if the person you need to forgive doesn't believe they've done anything that requires forgiveness. But when you forgive, you set yourself free. You are set free to live without bitterness, guilt, anger or hatred. You are set free to flourish.
Tomorrow I'll share some of the basic steps of forgiveness that will enable you to embrace a forgiving spirit more fully. We all have people in our life that need to be forgiven---for our sake as well as theirs.
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.