Seventy Times Seven

Duane Vander Klok

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
Ephesians 4:32 ESV

Throughout His life on earth, Jesus gave great examples on how to forgive over and over again. He taught us how to turn the other cheek, He forgave those who put Him on the cross, and He always loved His enemies. Giving forgiveness can be very difficult, but He can give us the strength to show His love no matter the circumstance.

Forgiveness is not a feeling or an emotion. Forgiveness is a decision. Sometimes we have to forgive someone more than once—we may even need to forgive them daily. But we are able to continually forgive because God enables us to forgive as He has forgiven us.

Harboring unforgiveness in our hearts keeps us from God’s plan and purpose. It is like a poison that seeps into our thoughts, attitude, and desires, and will affect every part of our lives if it is not cut out. Many people try to punish the other person by not forgiving them, but the truth is that bitterness hurts everyone around us—especially ourselves. When our hearts are infected with unforgiveness, it keeps us from hearing God’s voice and direction.

Forgiveness cannot come from our own strength. Only with God can we forgive and show the fullness of His love. Fixing our eyes on Jesus and following His example turns our focus to building God’s Kingdom here on earth. An earthly focus holds onto bitterness and grudges so that it may fuel our own revenge or cover up our pain, but a Kingdom focus forgives because we were already forgiven. A Kingdom focus shows grace because we could never forget the immeasurable grace shown to us.

“Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.”
Matthew 18:21-22 ESV