Tuesday, March 03, 2020

In their own words: Day 7

Day 7 - Matthew 18.21

Then Peter came and said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him , “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.”

Forgiveness is a fraught and tricky business. Today’s passage has been used as a weapon to force those who are being abused to forgive their abuser, and stay with them. This is not, we can be sure, the intention Jesus had. Earlier in this chapter he speaks very passionately against those who hurt others (e.g. Matt 18.6)

But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to forgive others where it is safe for us to do so, and wrestle with what forgiveness might look like in any circumstance. Peter seems to hope that he can ration forgiveness, setting a limit on it beyond which he can’t be expected to go. Jesus deliberately suggests a number which would, in practice, be impossible to keep track of (and in some translations, it is “seventy times seven” – 490!) The message is that love, as St Paul later says, “keeps no record of wrongs “(1 Cor 13.5. NIV)

·         What does forgiveness mean to you? What does it feel like to forgive, and to be forgiven?

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