Devotional: July 7, 2021
“Then Peter came and said to him, ‘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.”
Matthew 18: 21-22 NRSV
Today is Global Forgiveness Day! I learned about this designation while listening to a Christian radio station yesterday, and wanted to pass the word on to you. Today is Forgiveness Day! It is an entire day to celebrate God’s forgiveness of us, and our forgiving of those who hurt us.
“We think that forgiveness is weakness, but it’s absolutely not; it takes a very strong person to forgive.”
Bishop T. D Jakes, founder of The Potter’s House church in Dallas, TX, and daytime talk show host
In this scripture passage, the disciple Peter approaches Jesus with an honest question. “How many times should I forgive someone?” In his mind, he could not see himself forgiving one person more than seven times. To Peter, that is the absolute upper limit.
Jesus blows up Peter’s limited view of forgiveness. He suggests a number tenfold more than Peter’s number! Of course, Jesus is ultimately encouraging us to practice unlimited forgiveness.
This is the not the last word from Jesus of forgiveness. He then offers the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18: 23-35. The essential point of the parable is that if we accept God’s forgiveness for our sins, but do not extend forgiveness to others, it will not go well for us. God forgives us, and expects us to forgive others.
Here are a couple of suggestions on how to celebrate Global Forgiveness Day from a website:
“On World Forgiveness Day, one of the best things that you can do is practice the art of forgiving someone. Start it today for a peaceful day. You can also share your experiences of forgiveness and also forgive others when someone is offering it to you. You can teach people about why the art of forgiving is important and spread awareness on World Forgiveness Day. You can also visit the Global Forgiveness Day website and find out about the online events that will be conducted throughout the day. We can also post a picture of the one we have forgiven on social media and join the conversation #GlobalForgivenessDay.”
So often, I am like Peter. The painful memories and hurt overwhelm me, and cause me to hold back on forgiving others. I hang onto those hurts, even when they happened a long time ago. Help me to find the strength to forgive, and to love, even when it does not come easy. Forgive my unforgiving spirit. I pray this prayer in the name of Your son, and my savior, who forgave even those who took his life, Jesus Christ. Amen.