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Keep forgiving

July 23, 2017

Peter once asked Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother.  He suggested seven times, since that seemed fairly generous according to Jewish law, which only required three times.  But Jesus said seven times was not nearly enough.  The Master put forth seventy times seven as a more appropriate number. (Matt 18:21,22)

Was Jesus meaning that we stop forgiving when we reach the magic number of 490?  Not likely.

The Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5 – 7) is filled with his teachings that correlate, such as removing first the beam from our own eye before we even comment on the beam in our brother’s eye.  Wouldn’t that compel us to be more forgiving?

And what about leaving our gift on the alter while we explore with our brother what he has against us.  Doesn’t it seem like forgiveness in both directions might be the outcome?

Jesus’ example of forgiveness was astounding.  He introduced the concept of reciprocal forgiveness into the Lord’s prayer, which Mary Baker Eddy interprets spiritually to mean “and Love is reflected in love.” (See Science and Health p. 17)  And there is a profound story in Luke (7:36 to 50) about deep forgiveness going hand in hand with deep humility and affection.

But the ultimate teaching on forgiveness came when Jesus was on the cross. Speaking to his dear Father he said, “forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:24)

How can we imagine our own hurts and annoyances are greater than what he experienced?  He said, “…the works that I do shall you do also; and greater works than these shall you do…” (John 14:12)

That includes forgiving 490 times.

And forgetting that many times too.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.