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The Seventy Times Seven Rule

Focus: Matthew 18:21-22 - KJV

21. Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 22. Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

Luke 17:3-4

The general rule is for us to forgive everyone that offends us even as the Lord forgives us our offences. The laws of Moses are that we avenge ourselves when we are wronged. For instance, if a man kills the animal of another, he restores it fully, even if the killing was accidental. And, if a man kills another, he must be killed in turn. That is the basis of the rule of “an eye for an eye”. However, Christ says we should not repay evil for evil and importantly, we should forgive our offenders and even pray for them. That is the basis of love: the ability to forgive and let go. How many times to let go? Christ says as many times as we are offended. That is the acceptable norm.

Nonetheless, the rule to forgive is not a liberty for unconscionable offence. The tendency is for the wicked to want to take the believer for granted because of the rule to forgive always. With God, forgiveness comes if there is genuine repentance, which the Bible calls godly repentance not to be repented of. In like manner, forgiveness is to be on the basis of repentance and a genuine one for that matter. Like God will not forgive an adulterer that says I am sorry but continues in adultery, so are we not to forgive anyone who derives pleasure in hurting us and doing so almost in perpetuity. That is why our reading recommends forgiving those who offend and seek forgiveness, no matter the number of times it happens. It does not mean for example, someone slapping the other and saying sorry but returns to do so every time after saying sorry.

If forgiveness was so blanket and open to abuse, then every offender of God would be admitted into paradise no matter their sins. God is not an author of confusion. He sets parameters that we ought all to follow. The one who keeps himself in perpetual offence does not appear to have the heart of love. Even God will not forgive someone who, though forgiven, would not forgive others. It means there are lines that must not be crossed if we must be forgiven. To receive forgiveness, we must be mindful to avoid offence, as much as possible, so that when there is a slip, forgiveness can come with ease. No, it is not a basis for unforgiveness, but a caution to the wicked to watch his ways and not draw the believer into error, through perpetual offence that may curry unforgiveness.

SOLUTION: Learn to forgive every repentant offender. Do not put yourself in a position where anyone may keep offending you annoyingly. If you are in the habit of offending people thinking you will say sorry in the end, please put an end to that today. There is a limit to every endurance. Christ sees every heart.

Pray thus: Father, I look up to you to forgive my offenders no matter what: please help me never to keep unforgiveness in me in Jesus’ name. And help me to live a life devoid of offence towards my neighbors in Jesus’ name.

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