Have you ever had your feelings hurt by someone? Did they say or do something mean that really hurt you deep inside? Maybe you were tempted to “get even.” Even the Apostle Peter was hurt by others, and he asked Jesus about it. Peter’s question and Jesus’ answer are both found in this verse.
“Then Peter came to him and asked, ‘Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?’ ‘No, not seven times,’ Jesus replied, ‘but seventy times seven!’ (Matthew 18:21-22)
Jesus’ answer is forgiveness. Now, did you catch the little math lesson inside the verse? Peter wondered, “how many times do I have to forgive someone? Is seven times enough times to forgive them?”
Here is the math problem. Jesus answered “no—seventy times seven!” That is 490 times. Now, I don’t think that Jesus meant that the 491st time someone does something bad to you, you don’t have to forgive them. He was showing Peter, and us too, that we should keep on forgiving over and over again.
Why does Jesus want us to forgive? Jesus loves us all and He knows that forgiveness is the only answer that works. If you choose to not forgive someone, and try to “get even” instead, it never turns out well.
Let’s pretend that your little sister ate the cinnamon roll you brought home from your trip to the mall with dad. You were saving your treat and she just ate it. So, to get even, you take her lollipop that she won at school.
Now, just imagine how your sister will feel. Pretty terrible. Will you feel better, though? No, you won’t! Your sister will be angry, you’ll still be angry, and there won’t be any peace for either of you. You both will be wondering how you can “get even” with the other person. And it will never end!
“Getting even” only makes you feel worse. It certainly makes the other person feel bad, too. Forgiveness is the only answer. Forgiveness brings peace. If you forgive your sister, and you kindly ask her to replace what she ate, chances are she will. It will be a much happier outcome than “getting even.”
So today, follow Jesus’ way and forgive. Even if you have to forgive 490 times, don’t give up, and make it a wonderful new day—a new day with Jesus!