Matthew 18:21-35 : Seventy Times Seven
At Harvest we thank God for all the lovely food he provides for us. In many countries, people depend entirely on what they can grow themselves. Therefore a good Harvest is very important if they were to survive the winter. This Harvest we are thanking God for providing us with people to live with, as well as produce to live on. We want to think about how we can show our thankfulness to God by the way we care for others. Peter asked Jesus a question.
“Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” (Matthew 18:21).
Peter thought forgiving someone seven times was generous of him.
But Jesus replied “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22). How many times is that? 490 times! Does Jesus mean we must count up to 490 times? Hands up if you keep a record of how many times you have forgiven members of your family? And your friends? Of course not. That is not what Jesus meant. How can we be sure? Because he then told a story about a king who forgave a servant a really big debt he couldn’t pay back. But the king got angry when he heard that the servant had not forgiven a fellow servant who only owed him a small amount. Jesus knew if he said we should forgive seventy times seven, we would never be able to keep count. He wants us to forgive over, and over again. Because he forgives us over and over again. And if we’re in any doubt, Jesus added,
“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (Matthew 18:35).
1. Why should we forgive?
A. Because we ought to.
B. Because it’s British.
C. Because God forgave us.
2. What should we forgive?
A. Sins against animals.
B. Sins against us.
C. Sins against everyone.
3. When should we forgive?
A. Straight away.
B. When we feel like it.
C. When people are sorry.
4. How should we forgive?
A. Through gritted teeth.
B. From the heart.
C. By forgetting them.
We may not change the person we forgive, at least not straight away. But we change inside whenever we forgive someone else. When we forgive from the heart we cannot continue to be angry or bitter toward them. When we forgive from the heart we are showing God is our heavenly Father. When we forgive from the heart we are becoming more like Jesus. So this Harvest, let’s say ‘thank you’ to God for giving us people to live with and produce to live on. But above all, let’s thank God for forgiving us in Jesus so we can forgive others.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32).