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Minister's Minute: Choosing to forgive

Without genuine forgiveness, one cannot reconcile with others.
Hands on bible
A man reading the Holy Bible.

I’ve tried to help many people reconcile with others in the context of marriages, mediation between employer and employee, or between a parent and a child.

Reconciliation is often difficult to achieve. Many of us find reconciliation challenging because we find forgiving others to be extremely hard. Yet, without genuine forgiveness, one cannot reconcile with others.

In the Bible, Peter asks Jesus, “‘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-seven times’” (Mt. 18:21-22). In this context, Jesus’s answer isn’t denoting a specific numerical value, but rather the connotation of the number seven, which was understood in Scripture to mean perfection. So, the answer Jesus is giving here is, “always.” You must always forgive.

That seems like a radical standard for Jesus’s disciples to live up to. However, Jesus’s explanation in Matthew 18 indicates that the reason why Jesus’s disciples must forgive is not based on our ability to forgive or how deserving the person being forgiven is.

It is entirely because we, too, were forgiven so radically by Jesus himself, so we must forgive others. Because we have been forgiven much, we must forgive much - or always.

Now, you might think that this is setting us up to be taken advantage of, but the irony is that if I am duty bound to my God to always forgive you, it strengthens our relationship because it opens the door to reconciliation.