Yesterday, we learned that when Jesus answered Peter’s magnanimous question about forgiving a repentant brother up to seven times, he used in his answer an idiomatic expression (70 +7 or 70 x 7, depending on your version) that all those listening would have understood as “more than you can count” Peter.
To Peter, forgiveness was about keeping score. To Jesus, it was about setting the scoreboard back to zero.
And then he tells the wonderful story of the king's forgiveness and then follows up with a stern warning for those who like to keep score.
But as I was reflecting yesterday afternoon about the number and how we think Jesus was actually saying 490 and not “more than you can count”, I began to see the foolishness of limiting our forgiveness to “just” 490.
I’ve been married this September to the same woman for 24 years. Over those same years, I have sinned against my wife a “few times” by violating God’s command to love her as Christ loves the church. Actually, it is a lot easier for me to love myself than to love her – and not because she is unlovable. She isn't! I’m just real good at loving myself at her expense.
Let’s be extremely lenient and say that I count only 3 of those sins of loving myself more than the command (Ephesians 5:25) of our Heavenly Father, a week. That would mean that early on in the 3rd year of our marriage I would have passed the 491 “sins against her” mark.
What kind of marriage would we have today if my wife had kept score instead of zeroing the score on a ongoing basis?
What about my kids? My parents? My brothers and sisters in the Lord?
Psalm 130:3-4 says the following: If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.
If God kept score, it would be a blowout with me on the losing end. But, because of Christ, he doesn't. He forgives and as His children He demands the same from us (Matthew 18:35).
Thank the Lord for people who don’t keep score, especially my wife.