Tuesday, December 11, 2012

70x7: Our duty to forgive others

If we expect to be forgiven by God, we must first freely offer forgiveness to others, and to do so continually. Or so says Jesus, anyway. Forgiveness is given by God freely when we ask for it, but we must in turn give forgiveness freely to others, not out of mere “gratitude” or as an optional, grudging act (and when we feel like it) but willingly, and with a contrite heart. This is a condition of our forgiveness by God. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, says Jesus, and this surely applies to forgiveness, which he speak about frequently. When the Scribes told Jesus that only God can forgive sins, Jesus corrected them, and by example, taught that all men should forgive others’ sins and trespasses. 

When Peter asks how many times we must forgive others, Jesus says “Seventy times seven” times. In other words, continually and without end. This comes as a great shock to those who believe they need “do” nothing to achieve communion with God eternally, but they have been greatly misled. Forgiveness, more than almost any other doctrine, is a the core of the faith Jesus preached. And if Jesus can, in his dying breath, forgive those who murdered him, we can forgive those who offend us with their gossip and other petty offenses. Our God, revealed to us by Jesus, is a God of high expectations, and believes that we are able to meet and exceed them. I believe Jesus.

Scripture cited:
“And forgive us our debts, AS  we forgive our debtors. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matt. 6:12, 14-15

"And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses." Mark 11:24-25

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.” Matt. 18:21-22

“Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.” Luke 12:48

“Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, 'I repent,' you shall forgive him.” Luke 17:3-4

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