Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Matthew 18:21-22
The average person breathes about 28,800 times a day. Did you know that? That’s a whole lot of hot air. I wonder if that’s enough to fill a hot air balloon? If the average adult breath is about 1 liter of air, and if the average hot air balloon is about 77,000 cubic meters of air…how many of us would it take breathing all day long to fill a hot air balloon?Somebody do the math on that and give us the answer in the comments!
For the Christ-follower, forgiving is a lot like breathing. I think when Jesus corrected Peter in Matthew 18, saying we are to forgive seventy times seven, what He meant is that we’re not even keeping score like that. We don’t count at all, because we will be doing it way too much to keep track! For us, it is like breathing. We breathe in and we breathe out…we forgive. We breathe in and we breathe out…we forgive again. That is the way it is supposed to be in the church.
Forgiveness may be the most misunderstood concept in Christendom. That’s ironic, because forgiveness, it seems, is supposed to be the hallmark of the gospel and one of the identifiers which separates Christ-followers from the rest of the world. Supposed to be.
We should be the world’s preeminent experts on forgiveness. We should be the standard bearers. The world should be looking to us to see and to better understand what forgiveness looks like in every circumstance. We are God’s chosen illustrators of forgiveness…He has left us here in this world in order to demonstrate it. Are you convicted yet?
Forgiving “seventy times seven”…forgiving “as the Lord forgave you”…is a tall order! It means spending an awful lot of our time in forgiveness mode. It means we probably should be spending more time forgiving than just about anything else. If I am reading scripture correctly, it is a big deal.
So how about it? How many breaths have you taken so far today?