21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Matthew 18:21-22
Some translations indicate that the math is actually seventy times seven which would be 490 times.
The major point, though, is beyond three or four times is too many, let alone 77 or 490! We become very impatient when forgiving people, especially for the same actions.
You can forgive the person but trusting that person is a different matter. If someone lies to me, I can and will forgive but I won’t be so quick to believe him next time. The more he does it, the less I am to believe.
Similarly, if a spouse is unfaithful, it doesn’t mean the other spouse can’t forgive. Trust has been broken and restoration will take time. The other spouse can forgive but she won’t – nor should she – trust him until sufficient time has passed. If the unfaithfulness happens again, divorce proceedings are probably in the works. At that point, the issue is trust alongside forgiveness.
The disciples wanted to do the least amount of forgiving possible. They tried to nail him down to a number. The number seven seemed to be reasonable to them, and probably to us as well.
But God’s view of forgiveness is different.
Remember that He has forgiven us our sins, all of them. Yes, we sinned against others and against Him.
“How many times will you forgive us, God, seven?”
Much much more than that.