Thursday, July 2, 2015

How Many Times?

Peter massaged his chin. So what was Jesus saying? He had just been talking about forgiving a brother who sins against you, and while everyone was nodding their heads like they understood exactly what Jesus was saying, Peter wanted to know more.

When is it enough?

His spine stiffened as he thought about the people who had wronged him in life. When did he have Jesus' permission to stop forgiving them? When could he tell them exactly how horrible they were?

Seven times? Yes, that seemed like a good, complete number. Once was just barely. Twice was probably enough, and three seemed like pushing it. In fact, Jesus only went to three times in his example about what to do when a brother sins against you.

Seven times, however, that was a lot. Peter smiled. Jesus would probably say, "No, that's too much."

Peter stood and walked towards Jesus. What an impressive question he was about to ask! The people and the rest of the disciples would be amazed at his attention to Jesus' words.

"Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? As many as seven times?" Peter stood tall and waited to hear Jesus' praise.

"No, not seven times, but seventy times seven!"

Peter's smile wavered and then fell off his face completely. Wait, He was serious!

Based on Matthew 18:21-22

"Then Peter came to him and asked, 'Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?' 'No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, 'but seventy times seven!'" Matthew 18:21-22

I'm going to be brutally honest with you guys. Sometimes, I really struggle with loving and forgiving people. I've been burned a lot in my life by people who are supposed to love me. At some point, I start to shut down, shy away, throw up walls to stop them from hurting me.

How long do I have to forgive people who keep on hurting me?

I've asked this out of a place of desperation. This is a cry, a plea, a genuine question the broken, weary, bruised, and beaten down ask. I'm writing this to those of you who've ever felt like that. Those who are ready to give up. Those who genuinely want to know when enough is enough. Those who know to forgive, but still need to know when pull away from those hurting you. Those who feel like they have forgiven 490 times.

There is still no magic number.

Honestly, every situation is different, and God will direct you to do different things in every situation. However, there are two things God will never tell you to do differently: To forgive and to love. Those are not easy. They can feel like someone has your very soul in a pressure cooker, but these two actions are unchanging.

If you take away God's love and forgiveness, what are we left with? What's the point? There is no point anymore. While someone telling you for the 748th time to forgive so that you can be forgiven may make you want to punch them in the face, God says it for a reason.

We treat love and forgiveness like two separate things, but they go hand in hand. To fully love someone, you need to forgive them. To fully forgive someone, you need love. Not just any love. God's love. This doesn't mean you let those hurting you run your life, but it does mean that you operate in God's love and forgiveness.

Unrelenting. Unchanging. Completely. All the time.

V. Joy Palmer


  1. Beaurifully written with insights from our loving God. Thank You!

    1. Thank you! God bless you!
      -V. Joy Palmer