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

Damilola let out a loud gasp when he read the last message.

Damilola was the brand manager of one of the fast-moving consumer goods producers. He had just come out of a review and planning meeting to review the performance of the last quarter and strategize for the next and had put his phone on silent mode and tucked it into the side pocket of his suitcase to avoid any distractions. He had just concluded the meeting when he brought out the phone and saw a notification of 12 missed calls and 3 messages. He quickly checked and noticed that 10 of the calls and all three of the messages were from his wife. All three messages read:

“Hey love, I got to leave a little earlier. I’ve gotten into town, just stuck in traffic. How are you?”

“Wow! You must be busy. You are not taking your calls and have not read my chats or replied my message. I am almost home now though. I’m famished and tired. See you soon”

“Honey I’m locked outside. Did you forget to leave my key in the usual place? Please…hurry. I need to freshen up and rest”

The last message was delivered an hour ago.

He dialed his wife’s number; it rang for a while, but no one picked it. When he arrived, she was at the neighbor’s and wouldn’t even speak to him. After some failed attempts to make her smile and lighten up, he blurted out in frustration,

“Why are you acting like you have never made a mistake” and went ahead to mention instances of her gaffe and blunders, he was stopped short at the third instance by the sound of her sobs.

In every relationship, more so close relationships, forgiveness is not to be treated as a fashionable icing on the cake, it is rather a critical ingredient. Forgiveness is a fundamental expression of love and must be expressed and dispensed generously. The God kind of forgiveness is one that does not keep an account of wrongs done it (See 1 Corinthians 13:6 NIV).

In today’s text you see Peter asking, ‘how many times do I have to dispense forgiveness to my offending brother? Do I need to count to the seventh offense before I let him have it?’ And Jesus was not just saying, ‘count higher’. He was basically saying, ‘stop counting’. In that passage, Jesus went ahead to narrate a story of a servant who was forgiven but refused to forgive another who had offended him. This is one of the bases for dispensing forgiveness; because we too have been forgiven.

Go into today determined to keep no record of wrongs, but to forgive just as the Lord forgives. Ask the Lord for the wisdom and strength to do this.
—Ikechukwu Mpama

Yearly Bible Reading: II Corinthians 1-3 (Available in Today’s Audio)

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