Then Peter came up and said to Him, "Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven." Matthew 18:21-22
The story was headlined, "MOBILE PHONES: DANGEROUS"
I almost skipped the story. That's not news. All of us have seen motorists doing strange things, dangerous things, because their attention was on their cell-phone conversation and not on the road.
But that wasn't the story. Not at all. This story told how one man, by mistake, called a wrong number. Apparently, the wrong number didn't like being called by mistake and he texted an insult to the first man. The first man texted the second man back with an equally insulting message.
In no time at all, the two met in a parking lot to settle the matter.
I guess they settled it.
One of the men was arrested by the Savannah Police Department for aggravated assault and the other fellow was taken to the hospital in serious condition.
That's where you take someone who has been shot.
Can you believe it? Because of a wrong number one man has lost his freedom and another man almost lost his life?
Whatever happened to the concept of forgiveness? And remember, we're not talking about forgiving seventy times seven times; we're not even talking about forgiving seven times.
These guys couldn't forgive somebody -- not even once.
Of course, honesty compels most of us to admit we have a tough time following Peter's standard of forgiveness. Can you imagine forgiving somebody once, and then having to forgive that person all over for committing the same sin, and then having to offer your forgiveness all over again, and then doing it yet one more time?
Sound like a lot? My friend, at this point, you're barely at the halfway point for Peter's suggested number, and you haven't begun to make a dent in the proposal of the Savior.
And if you're wondering who can forgive seventy times seven? I have an equally honest answer: Jesus can. Jesus does. Look at Scripture and you'll find Jesus healing those who had physical needs, and forgiving those with spiritual burdens. Look at Scripture and you will see the crucified Christ forgiving the fellows who had put Him on the cross.
And if you don't have a Bible handy, then look closer to home. How many sins have you not committed again and again? Is Jesus keeping a tally of those sins? I think not. His sacrifice, His suffering, death, and resurrection say those sins have been taken care of.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, forgive me all the times when I thought I could take care of myself by myself. I can't. That is especially true when I get angry or feel laughed at or slighted. Help me curb my temper and make a solid witness to You and Your love. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries