Numbers Person

Are you a numbers person? Do you favor odds over evens or evens over odds? I favor evens. I have no idea why. Numbers have never really been my thing, but words, however, have always been able to hold my attention. When it comes down to it though, numbers are mentioned several times in the following verses and I don’t think they are entirely the point. It’s not about numbers. It’s about one word: Forgiveness.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times…” Matthew 18:22

I’m a believer that we work out forgiveness with God, in the same way we work out our sanctification. We can speak the word forgiveness into the air, but it can fall flat to the ground, doing nothing, producing nothing, bearing no fruit. Or we can pray to forgive and trust God will help us to do just that. With humility, we can turn over the wronged, hurt feelings again and again to the One who has the power and position to do something about it, to heal us.

I’ll admit the number seven seems significant. Actually, Biblical scholars believe seven is a symbolic number in Scriptures, but when I read these verses my non-numerical mind skims right over the seven and hits upon the repetition of words and the emphasis on forgiving. On any given day I’m working on forgiving someone. Forget other people, at any given moment I’m working on forgiving myself.

Jesus said, “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” To which the apostles replied, “Increase our faith!” Luke 17:3-5

Forgiveness isn’t something we can do on our own. We don’t have enough power and we aren’t selfless enough to want to forgive all on our own. This is Spirit work. A fitting thing to ask when we hope to forgive is exactly what the apostles asked for…increased faith. With increased faith we can forgive countless times in countless ways.

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