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
There are some folks who are "morning" people and other folks who are "evening" people.
Arnold Anderson, who teaches at the Roosevelt Elementary School in New Brunswick, New Jersey, is not a morning person.
How do I know? Easy ... in the last two years, Mr. Anderson has been tardy for school 111 times.
That's right, 111 times. That's 65 times two years ago and 46 times last year. Understand, Mr. Anderson isn't really late; he's just a "little" late.
His reason for his tardiness?
Mr. Anderson says, "I have a bad habit of eating breakfast in the morning and I lost track of time." The local school system thinks that Mr. Anderson is making $90,000 a year, and it has every right to expect him to be on time.
Indeed, they feel so strongly about Mr. Anderson's lateness, they tried to terminate his contract.
The arbitrator who heard both sides stopped the firing because it was felt the school ought to try some less drastic punishments first. On the other hand, the arbitrator rejected Mr. Anderson's explanation that since he was a really, really good teacher, he ought to be cut some slack in the area of punctuality. Having served in congregations with parochial schools, I would have a tough time forgiving any teacher who was so persistently unpunctual, which takes us to the purpose of this devotion.
Jesus says we are to forgive seventy times seven. And by that He doesn't mean 490. It means we are to forgive again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and ....
Tiring, isn't it? And that was only nine times.
And why should we forgive others with such great regularity? Simple, we forgive others that way because that's the way the Lord forgives us. The logic is if a perfect God can erase our sins, how much more should we imperfect people forgive each other?
To win our forgiveness is why Jesus was born, lived, suffered, died and rose. Now the Holy Spirit wishes we who have been forgiven to set our grateful hearts to share that pardon we have so graciously received.
It is an obligation and privilege that glorifies the Christ.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, may we forgive others as we have been forgiven by You. This we ask in the Name of our Redeemer, who made our forgiveness a possibility and a reality. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries