Matthew 18:21-22 – Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, if my brother keeps on sinning against me, how many times do I have to forgive him? Seven times?" "No, not seven times," answered Jesus, "but seventy times seven." (GNB)
Several years ago, during Advent, I received a special gift. It was precious, although not rare or expensive. A card, beautiful tissue paper and ribbon did not accompany this gift, which was one that couldn't be purchased anywhere for any price. The words I received were cheerfully and freely given. They did not come in the form of poetry, prayer, or short story designed to appeal to the writer within. Even so, my heart soared when I read a simple sentence in which forgiveness was imparted.
While I find it difficult at times to accept and understand human forgiveness, I am reminded how much more difficult it is to comprehend God's love and forgiveness. In Romans 5:8 we read: "But God has shown us how much He loves us — it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us!" (GNB) Such forgiveness is a gift of immeasurable worth and cannot be bought again anywhere. Christ has already paid the price.
Being forgiven, although I felt undeserving, helped me to realize that another person was seeing me through Christ's loving eyes and had accepted me, despite my capacity to make mistakes. It is important for others also to come to know God's love and forgiveness. Our witness, like that of my friend, can be one of forgiving others seventy times seven, as Christ commanded. Eventually the love of God will sink in and they will begin to see themselves through His eyes.
Prayer: Forgiving God, thank you for forgiving our sins now and in the future. Help us to seek forgiveness when we sin against you and others. Help us to remember that you forgive us and that we are to forgive others when they sin against us. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.