Then 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.”
Often times, the most painful offences come from those we consider friends. It is easier to deal with words and actions that come from people we do not know. Part of the reason we are so hurt by the actions and words of people who are seemingly “close” to us is the comfort level we have with these folks. Our defenses are down; we are at ease, with no reason to be on edge.
It has been said that “the meanest people in the world are in the Church.” We expect folks to deal differently with issues since we are all of the same body…but often times, that is not the case. This is probably why it hurts so much.
No doubt Peter was dealing with this issue. Having a fellow Jew hassle him over his new found allegiance to this Jesus may have been the reason why the question of forgiveness came up. Maybe he had a friend who was continually back stabbing and gossiping about something. Maybe, Peter had a relative who was crossing the line and he had had enough.
For what ever reason, Peter had come to a point when he had to ask the Lord…”how many times do I have to do this?” As Usual Jesus does not give the answer he wants, but the one he needs. We look more like Jesus when we forgive.
The feeling of resentment that burns in our gut when we hang on to hurts leads to a bitter heart. The issue then is not forgiveness, but bondage. The root of bitterness grows deep and robs us of the nutrients (grace and love) meant for freedom. So in actuality, forgiveness benefits us and the one who has offended. We are set free from the bondage, and the offender sees Christ in us.
It is not easy at times. We often want our pound of flesh. I have wanted those who caused the pain to feel the pain. Then I remember Jesus actually washed the feet of Judas. The very one who would betray Him later that night.