Every year Americans clean out their closets, dust off belongings in their attics and go through old boxes set aside in the corner of a vacant room. Inside each of these containers lie relics of the past. From my own personal experience, it’s hard to let go of favorite pieces from my past. Despite being faded, warn out, and a little small, nostalgia has prevented me from letting go of the memories associated with these clothes.
Then Peter came up to Him and said, Lord, how many times may my brother sin against me and I forgive him and let it go? [As many as] up to seven times? 22 Jesus answered him, I tell you, not up to seven times, but seventy times seven! – Matthew 18:21-22
When it comes to forgiveness, everyone has a pre-conceived notion about the right amount. During a conversation with Jesus, Peter shares his opinion. Instead of adopting a three strikes and you’re out policy, Peter feels that everyone should get seven do overs, one per day. Taking this well beyond Peter’s answer, Jesus suggests that forgiveness should be an unlimited number. Yet, when you are the one who has been afflicted, hurt, and wronged, letting go of any transgression is just as difficult, if not more.
Let all bitterness and indignation and wrath (passion, rage, bad temper) and resentment (anger, animosity) and quarreling (brawling, clamor, contention) and slander (evil-speaking, abusive or blasphemous language) be banished from you, with all malice (spite, ill will, or baseness of any kind). 32 And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted), forgiving one another [readily and freely], as God in Christ forgave you, Ephesians 4:31-32.
Apparently, the apostle Paul addresses questions about forgiveness in a letter to Ephesus. Paul goes into details about how not letting go of past transgressions affects your soul. As this spiritual baggage builds up, bitterness spreads. This is where the 70 x 7 equation comes into play. If God forgives you as far as the east is from the west, Psalm 103:12, this infinite amount of grace should inspire you to forgive others in a similar manner. Therefore, when you are able to let go of your past, you can begin to love others as Christ loves the church.
by Jay Mankus