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Friends in Christ Weekly Message
September 14, 2002

     Peter came up to the Lord and asked, "How many times should I forgive someone who does something wrong to me? Is seven times enough?"
     Jesus answered: "Not just seven times, but seventy-seven times!"

Matthew 18:21-22 (CEV*)

Some translations of this story report the number as seventy times seven. But Biblical scholars agree that the number is symbolic, and simply meant to convey a very large number of times. Jesus was certainly not asking us to count the number of times we forgive someone so we know when we don't have to do it anymore.

One of the most basic parts of God's character is that He is forgiving. This is one of the central messages of scripture. All of us disobey God from time to time. All of us fail to give God all the attention we should. God's love for us is so great that He is always ready to forgive us and welcome us back into His loving arms.

This particular passage continues with a parable about someone being forgiven much, but who is still not willing to forgive another a little. The clear lesson is that we should respond to forgiveness shown us by being forgiving to others. The message is that we should respond to God's great forgiveness shown to us by being forgiving to others - time after time after time, if need be.

This is often a difficult lesson to follow. When we are hurt repeatedly, our natural human reaction is to lash back. But if we are filled with gratitude for the forgiveness God shows towards us, we will respond in like manner to others. May we each so focus on the love God shows us that we will become fountains of love and forgiveness, showing the world the character of God through the character of those who follow God.

Bill Samuel

* Contemporary English Version ©1995 American Bible Society.

©2002 Friends in Christ, Inc.

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Document last modified on Saturday, 27-Dec-2003 12:01:06 EST