v 21. Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”
Parents find it increasingly difficult to forgive a child who persists in doing something really bad – like hitting friends, or stealing money, or telling lies. A moment seems to come when repeated ‘mischief’ appears to be tinged with more evil or aggressive motives. And when you are on the receiving end of repeated aggression or deception you are entitled to consider what you might do to put an end to it. Retaliation is not the answer, you know that perfectly well, but you might find yourself scheming as to how you might deal with the situation. You are being treated unfairly, you think to yourself, and you really must do something to make the point.
I just get the impression that something was going on in Peter’s life to prompt this question. Something, somewhere, somebody was putting his back up and he had had enough! How long was long enough to put up with it? (Is this a feeling that gets at you occasionally?) You’ve been cheated, lied to, taken for a ride, and probably laughed at too behind your back! So you stew on it, and if you are not careful you will become embittered and lose sleep over it.
‘Peter’ says Jesus, ‘Get over it and learn to forgive before it destroys you.’
And then keep on forgiving – it’s a counter-intuitive response, but love and forgiveness trumps badness.
After all, that is the way God deals with you. Forgiving never wearies Him.