Yesterday, we talked about the Old Testament character Lamech and how he swore to avenge his enemies seventy times seven times in order to get even. Today, I want to complete this thought by discussing Jesus’ admonition to forgive in a manner as extravagant and “over the top” as Lamech’s commitment to revenge. In ancient Jewish culture, it was tradition to forgive a person up to three times. Therefore, when Peter, who was the overachiever and “big brother” of the disciples, asked His Rabbi if he should forgive up to seven times, he was certain he was being extremely gracious. No doubt, he believed that his suggestion would be met with a big pat on the back by Jesus, so how shocked he must have been when His Lord told him that he should forgive even more than that — up to seventy times seven! A number clearly not meant to be taken literally, our Savior’s heart of infinite mercy was revealed in His response to Peter’s question, thus offering us a glimpse into the Kingdom of grace He came to establish. By hearkening back to Lamech’s vow to avenge seventy times seven, Jesus suggested that forgiveness should be carried out even more extravagantly than what the offense calls for. In other words, those who’ve been pardoned much can and should pardon others in a way that exceeds the nature of the transgression.
My friend, there’s no frugality in forgiveness! As one who’s been liberated from the chains of your past, you are free to draw upon an endless supply of divine mercy that enables you to let go of even the greatest offense. When the actions of others attempt to unsettle you and steal your peace, you are swift to release your grip on pain and disappointment and run into the arms of the One who will never let you down. As He comforts you, you are empowered to shower His pardon on people in a way that is humanly impossible and can only point to His endless and perfect love.