May 3, 2016 • By Ed Wrather
Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” – Matthew 18:21-22 NKJV.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35 NKJV.
Rodney and Randy Gilliam both more than 40-years-old living in the same house had a little disagreement. Rodney thought that Randy had taken his pot roast, and became enraged; stabbing Randy several times in the head with a three-pronged fork. The result was that Randy had stitches all over his head and a swollen eye. When police arrived they found blood all over the place and arrested Rodney for aggravated battery. Randy says they had been drinking and that it was, “A family squabble, I mean, like I said I’m sorry he’s going to jail for it. I don’t want to see him do that but I guess, you know, you shouldn’t stab me.” Maybe it is something in the water in Muncie, Indiana that caused this? Because last summer a family was having a barbecue and one woman stabbed another in the eye with a fork over a rib. Now, in her defense, Sabrina says the other woman had a knife. (Fox59 04.30.16; Fox59 05.27.15)
There is often a common ingredient in violent family arguments and that common ingredient is alcohol. While I was a parole officer I had a murderer on parole that had killed his brother, alcohol was also involved in that violent act of rage.
Jesus says we should forgive not seven times but “seventy times seven.” Peter’s suggestion that they should forgive seven times was actually generous compared to rabbinic thought at that time. According to the Expositor’s Bible Commentary: “In rabbinic discussion, the consensus was that a person might be forgiven a repeated sin three times.” The parable following of the Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:23-35) makes it clear that seventy times seven is not the limit to forgiveness in that we have been forgiven far more than we can ever forgive others. The vastness of the debt, God forgives through Jesus, is shown in the great debt of 10,000 talents that the Unforgiving Servant is forgiven. King David in comparison donated seven thousand talents of silver and three thousand talents of gold to be used in the construction of the Temple (1 Chronicles 29:4, 7).
The next time you’re at the family barbecue and someone takes the last rib, forgive! The next time you think someone has stolen your pot roast, forgive! Remember you have been forgiven far more than you can ever forgive anyone else. Forgive!