Matthew chapter 18
MONDAY, July 27
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 18
BY: Josh Boles
I would like to skip down to verse 21. Peter asks a very important question about a topic that causes a lot of us a lot of grief. He wanted to know about forgiveness and, in particular, how many times he needed to forgive.
Before Jesus could actually answer the question, Peter offered his own answer. He asked Jesus if forgiving someone seven times was sufficient. It is important that you know that Peter undoubtedly thought he was being more than generous with the amount of times he should forgive his friend. The reason he would have thought that is that the rabbis during that time taught that forgiving someone three times was sufficient. The other reason Peter might have thought he was being crazy generous with seven forgivenesses is that a lot of us struggle forgiving a particular person even once.
I suspect when Peter offered his seven times he thought that he was putting himself in a place to receive some glowing praise from Jesus. Instead Jesus said we are to forgive seventy-seven times. That would be 490 times. You know that had to have hurt Peter’s feelings just a little.
let’s not take Jesus too literal here. I don’t think He was suggesting we keep a running tally of how many times we should forgive somebody. Can you imagine saying to someone, “Listen, according to my painstakingly kept records, I have forgiven you 489 times. You got one left. Use it wisely.” Besides, 1 Corinthians 13:5 says love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs. This can’t be taken literally.
So why did Jesus say this. Well, if you remember from out time at the beginning of Matthew, Jesus' standards for living are drastically different than ours. Just as a refresher. The law says to love your neighbor. Jesus says to do that but also to pray for your enemy. The law says not to murder, but Jesus says if you look at your brother with hatred you have already committed murder. There are several more of those in Matthew Chapter 5 but the point is. Jesus expects more of us than our flesh has to offer.
This is why Jesus rebukes Peter. As we already said, Peter thought he was forgiving sufficiently, but in reality his flesh was ready to stop forgiving his brother. Ever been there? Jesus is imploring us to not live life trusting our flesh but live according to His righteousness.
It is never a bad thing to live according to Jesus' standards. Is it incredibly difficult, or even impossible? Probably so. This does not mean however; that we should use every last breath that we have trying to live up to the measure of his grace. In reflecting on this, I would ask you to go read Ephesians 4:13.
There is a current theological debate about whether or not sanctification is possible while we are here on earth. I do not have enough space to give you my thoughts on that, but would gladly share them with you if you want to have that discussion. Whether is is truly impossible or possible is irrelevant. Even if it were impossible, we should live as if it were possible. God says about 9 times in the Bible to, "Be holy for I am holy." And in Ephesians 4 Paul is talking about something we can, Attain," and maturing, "To the measure of Christ." Living this way however; is impossible of you have un-forgiveness in your heart. Forgive others in the same way Jesus has forgiven you. The end.