"Then Peter came and said to Him,
"Lord, how often
shall my brother sin against me
and I forgive him?
Up to seven times?"
Jesus said to him,
"I do not say to you,
up to seven times,
but up to seventy times seven.""
-- The Bible, Matthew 18:21,22, NAS
Seventy times seven would be 490 times, but I think the point here is not a number, but always.
From the first time I read or heard that passage, I've taken it to heart. That doesn't mean that I haven't been in Peter's position, but that I haven't forgotten the lesson that this wonderful passage contains.
Whether it is a debt or some other grievance that has caused conflict with another, how many times should we forgive them? Seventy times seven.
There is often confusion about forgiveness. The word indicates that we are releasing the other and giving them relief from the debt or the transgression. That would be like Peter saying, "I hate this that happened by the poor dealing of another to me, and I don't want to forgive them, but you teach forgiveness, Lord, and I want to learn. I am willing to forgive them. How many times do I have to forgive such things? Did you say up to seven?"
Then, it is like the Lord saying, "No Peter. Not seven times. This isn't about them. It is about you. Forgiveness isn't letting them go free, it is about letting yourself free from the burden of carrying that weight with you affecting everything that you think and do. That's why I say, not seven, but seventy times seven. When you pay attention to your own feelings, you will know what feels right and what feels wrong. You will notice the tension and the resistance, and the joy. I want you to have joy. That is the purpose of forgiveness. It is to release you to experience more joy and to lighten any burdens that you have accumulated. Let go of it. Love your brothers. Love your so-called enemies. Love is the most powerful force in the heavens, and when you love yourself enough to let go of the hurt, you then can let go of the blame of the other, and allow love to fill all that space."
Love Is Forgiveness. Love Is Kind. Love Is. . .
Spread Some Joy Today--by releasing any of those accumulated hurts and so-called failings. Drop the rope. Just let go of it. Feel the relief in that. That is the path to joy.