Then Peter came to him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "…up to seventy times seven." —Matthew 18:21-22
I have a suspicion that Peter was hoping to impress the Lord with this question. In his own mind, seven times probably seemed like quite a stretch. So when Jesus corrected him, saying "seventy times seven," Peter probably thought, "Yikes!"
Forgiveness is a prerequisite if we want our own sins to be forgiven. Jesus emphasized that truth in His teaching on the Lord's Prayer. "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors" (Matthew 6:12). A few verses later, He added, "But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father Father forgive your trespasses" (6:15).
Forgiveness is not a matter of mathematics. It is a matter of spirit.
When God forgives, He forgets. He never brings it up again. We would do well to imitate Him. He has forgiven us such a great debt, yet it is amazing what little things will rankle us and cause us to be angry and resentful toward others. Too often, our attitude is, "I will forgive—but I won't forget." Jesus would answer, "That is not forgiveness."
For the believer, forgiveness isn't an option—it is a requirement. But God will enable you to do whatever He requires. If you lack the strength to forgive, all you have to do is ask the Holy Spirit to work that forgiveness through you. What a glorious thing it is when God's love flows through us to heal another.
Lord, search us and know our hearts. If we need to forgive, help us to do so by Your Holy Spirit.
In Jesus' name, amen.