Matthew 18:21 Then Peter came and said to Him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" 22 Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
Jesus illustrated His answer in Matthew 18:23-33. This needs to be read. When reading remember the following: (1) ten thousand talents equals two hundred thousand years wages for the common laborer; (2) one hundred denarii equals a little less than on-third of a year wages for the common laborer (0ne hundred days wags); (3) seventy times seven is a phrase that means "an unlimited amount of times."
People are going to sin against us. People who love us are going to sin against us. Jesus tells us what to do when people sin against us. What Jesus tells us to do benefits all people since God's will is good, pleasing and perfect (Romans 12:2b). We are to forgive people an unlimited amount of times. The Apostle Paul, the chief of sinners, knew he was forgiven much by God and he taught the truth he learned from Jesus (Galatians 1:12) to the Ephesians believers. Ephesians 4:32 instructs all believers to forgive one another as God in Christ forgave them. How many times does God forgive the average believer? One time per day? Two times per day? Multiple thousands of times in the course of a person's life? Yes, God put no limit on how many times He would forgive us in the course of our life. We are to do to others as He has done and is doing for us.
What happens when we forgive a person who sins against us? Jesus tells us in John 8:31-32, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." When we forgive those who sin against us, we are living in freedom.
What happens when we won't forgive a person who has sinned against us? In Matthew 18:34-35 Jesus instructs us concerning the outcome of not forgiving a person who sins against us. He tells us we will experience life like a person delivered to jailers (Greek word means: "guards in a prison under orders to torture prisoners"). Life lived in unforgiveness is painful. But God is loving. He wouldn't torture us. The illustration Jesus gave is for the pain experienced, not about God delighting in torturing His people. In Hebrew 12:5-11 we learn that God, because He loves believers, He disciplines them. The discipline is painful, but yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. God would be an unloving God if He let us be destroyed by the sin of unforgiveness.
Is there anyone you need to forgive?