Jesus requires unlimited forgiveness for our brothers and sisters

By Lisa Wilmore

Scripture: If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector…Then Peter came to Jesus and asked “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times? Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seventy” (Matthew 18:15-18;21 NIV).

My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Many Christians may carry grudges or resentments in their hearts and never release such bitterness the way Jesus instructs us to do so. In fact, there are persons who we believe are cruel and do not deserve our forgiveness; however, Jesus requires us to not only forgive once, but also forgive over and over again.

What is your course of action or reaction when your offender shares false information about you or wrongfully mistreats you? What do you do? Do you begin to “concoct” revengeful strategies which only serve as a temporary bandage for your wounds and pains? Without a doubt, Jesus teaches us how to handle individuals who sin against us. Not only does He teach us to forgive over and over again, He also teaches us to love, bless, do good and pray for them who despitefully use and persecute us (Matthew 5:44).

As we journey through our scriptural reading for this message, Jesus teaches us to forgive our repeat offenders seventy times seventy. Peter suggests, through a question, the number of times we should forgive our brothers or sisters who sin against us. This suggestion goes beyond the three times the law requires. But Jesus’ reply does away with limits when it is time for forgiveness.

Jesus’ seventy times seventy, indisputably, requires unlimited forgiveness of our brothers and sisters. In essence, we must forgive unconditionally as many times necessary. Yes! Even for the same offense.
We have heard it stated in many instances that when individuals choose not to forgive, ultimately, it holds them hostage. The un-forgivers become imprisoned by withholding forgiveness from others. Jesus set us free when He forgave us of our sins. So, we must extend the same forgiveness to others who offend us over and over-even with the same sin.