For 3, Not 4

Calculator and pencil

“The Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” ~Matthew 18:21-22 (NASB)

Don’t go grabbing your calculator I’ll give you the answer right here. 490. Yeppers you can forgive someone 490 times before you get to say, “Sorry but you’ve used up all my forgiveness towards you. Now please exit the room and consider yourself dead to me.” If you really think that then maybe today’s Freedom Fighter is not for you…just kidding it is for you and for me as well. This past Wednesday night’s Bible study was an eye opener to something that I haven’t seen in Scripture before. The concept of forgiving someone 3 times but after that you’ve used up all your “get outta jail free” cards.

Pastor John Mol has been in Matthew for quite some time and he’s just getting done with chapter 18. So we stopped in to see what the parable of the unforgiving servant was all about. Basically when it’s condensed we see that this is a message for Christ’s church. Yes, it deals with the topic of forgiveness and I’ll get to that but it is a huge glimpse into how Christians should treat Christians…and dare I say how we should treat Secular Lands citizens.

It all starts when Peter, possibly thinking himself more highly than he ought, approaches Jesus and, possibly stroking his beard, asks Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Now Peter had been taught by the Jewish leaders of his time that you can forgive your brother 3 times and things were to be cool between you and he but that 4th incident occurring meant you could after him. Now Jesus being Jesus, sees right through this and wants Peter to change his thinking from one that keeps account of forgiveness to one that forgives unconditionally. But what’s up with the 3 times stuff? Got your Bible? Then let’s go to Amos 1.

When you look at verses 3,6,9,11,13 and even continuing into chapter two we see this written; “Thus says the LORD, “For the three transgressions of (fill in the blank) and for four I will not revoke its punishment,” and then we read why the LORD is doing what’s He is doing to the ENEMIES of His people and for the reason’s He is carrying it out. Guess those wacky Pharisees saw this as a way to punish their own. After all, we shouldn’t be sinning against our own people anyway and if we do and we go too far with it…like 4 times, they are no longer with us but are against us (ENEMIES) and we should be allowed to “send a fire upon the walls of (my brother), And it will consume her citadels.” Seems kinda extreme but those filthy sinners need to learn their lesson!! After all, do they not know who I am? Hmm…

When we look at the parable that Jesus teaches in Matthew 18:21-35 things should be quite clear to us. If a certain KING has forgiven YOUR huge debt who are you to not forgive a smaller debt owed to you by others. By the way, that dollar amount forgiven by that certain king in the parable was about $16,000,000 in today’s money…I ain’t got that kinda pocket change laying around, do you?

See the bottom line here is that whatever we think is a great offense done to us isn’t even measurable to the sin we commit against a holy and righteous God. But for some dumb reason we think it is and what is even more troubling is we tend to wanna punish our own when it’s done by our own. Now we can rest on Jesus’ words “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” when it comes to those in Secular Land but we forget to say this when it comes to those folks that are in The House with us on Sunday morning. What a wretched bunch we are, huh?

Here’s something to glean from this as well…even though the unforgiving servant got his just desserts, he wasn’t cast out of his master’s kingdom. Why? For the same reason he wasn’t punished for not having $16,00,000 in hard currency…LOVE. The king loved him, just as our King loves us. As the writer of Hebrews puts it, “After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin. And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as His children? He said, “My child, don’t make light of the LORD’s discipline, and don’t give up when He corrects you. For the LORD disciplines those He loves, and He punishes each one He accepts as His child.” (Hebrews 12:4-6) Pretty cool stuff, Amen?

Written by Chris Hughes: Chris, a graduate of The Colony of Mercy (11-2003) is married (Kathy) with two adult children (Kevin and Karen) and has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 119; Proverbs 27

Daily Quote: We trample the blood of the Son of God underfoot if we think we are forgiven because we are sorry for our sins. The only reason for the forgiveness of our sins by God, and the infinite depth of His promise to forget them, is the death of Jesus Christ. —Oswald Chambers

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. ~2 Corinthians 4:8-11

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