The Daily Bible Plan

Daily Bible Reading – 1 Chronicles 14,15; Psalm 132; Matthew 18

Today’s Key Passage – Matthew 18:21-35


In today’s key passage, Jesus teaches us about having an unforgiving attitude.  Peter asks Jesus how many times he needs to forgive someone who has sinned against him, and then he offers up his own possible answer of seven times.  Before we move on, we need to understand this in the context of the day.  Jewish law mandated that you must forgive another person three times, so when Peter offered up the answer of seven times he probably believed he was being very generous with his forgiveness.  He was likely expecting Jesus to commend him on his answer, but instead Jesus told Peter that he should forgive his brother seventy-seven times.  (Note that some translations say seven times seventy times or 490 times total, but the point Jesus is making is that…

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21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times? 22 Jesus answered, I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven times. – Matthew 18:21-22

This is the beginning of what is known as the “Parable of the wicked (or unmerciful) servant.”

Compared to the Law of Moses, Peter was actually being very generous (merciful) when he asked if he should forgive seven times. Under Mosaic Law, after only three times one could wash his hands of the trespasser.

But Jesus was telling Peter that even his “generous mercy” was not nearly enough. Seventy times seven!

Jesus message was clear. Our willingness to forgive is to be boundless. There is no such thing as “unforgivable.”

Thank God for that!

Think of where we’d be if we were to be forgiven “only seven…

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See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. (Heb. 12:15)

The bitter root manifests itself in many ways: pain, jealousy, regret, anger, hatred, feelings of rejection or inadequacy, or guilt being some of the primary ones.

The bitter root enters us because of things others have done or things we have done ourselves. It modifies our lives and inhibits our ability to live the full and abundant life God planned for us. When we harbor the bitter root, we also spread it to others.

To rid ourselves of the bitter root, we must forgive. The root of the word “forgive” means to release. Too often, we confuse forgiving with forgetting. They are not the same thing.

To forgive means to rid ourselves of the anger, jealousy, hatred or guilt we feel…

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Christians know the importance, the necessity of forgiveness. There are so many Biblical references both to forgiving and being forgiven. We can’t love unless we can forgive.

We far too often associate forgiveness with simply wiping the slate clean. We treat forgiveness as though whatever is being forgiven, the offense or debt, simply disappears. In most situations, this simply is not the case. A wonderful example is the Parable of the Wicked (or Unforgiving) Servant (Matthew 18:21-35):

21Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?

22Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

23Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.

24And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him…

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As Christians we recognize the immense importance of forgiving. We know that we have been forgiven, that the ransom has been paid at extremely high cost to rid us of our sins, debts or trespasses. We are commanded to love. We can’t both love and harbor the bitterness of unforgiveness toward the same person in our hearts. I recently wrote about the cost of forgiveness and how it is borne by the person who does the forgiving. (Who bears the cost of forgiveness?)

Sometimes we confuse forgiveness with reconciliation. To reconcile is to restore friendly relations or harmony. Forgiveness and reconciliation are not one and the same. While we cannot have true reconciliation without forgiveness, we can forgive without achieving reconciliation.

It only takes one to forgive

When we forgive we wipe away the sin, debt or trespass. It is no longer owed. That doesn’t mean there is no cost…

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Forgiveness seems to be my topic de jour. More and more I come to recognize that it is not just something Christians do, it is absolutely central to being Christian!

“Father, forgive them…” The first words uttered by Jesus after His scourged body was nailed to the cross. I’ve been pondering that…. and its meaning.

Keeping with this theme of forgiveness, here is an open letter I wrote to an “adopted” child:

An open letter to my child. To find peace, you must forgive.

My darling child,

You are deeply troubled. You feel the world closing in on you and you feel you are a failure. You are not.

You are in anguish. So many things are not going well for you right now. And things past continue to burden your heart. You must find peace in your heart and mind to go on.

My child, you feel rejected…

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