Forgiving other people is difficult. They tend to make the same mistakes over and over again, as Peter expressed in our passage today (Matt 18:21-35). I tend to feel his tone was exasperated as he asked Jesus how many times he needed to forgive someone – seven times?! It seems that he felt he was being more than generous in this!
Jesus talked about unlimited forgiveness, telling a story about two men and their debts. One had a large debt and begged for mercy; the slate was wiped clean, and he was given a fresh start. Yet this same man, when faced with someone who owed him a much smaller amount, would not show mercy. It would have cost him much less to settle the debt, but his attitude was one of unforgiveness, something which ultimately led to punishment.
Forgiven people should forgive people. That’s the nature of God’s kingdom. Paul says, ‘Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.’ (Eph 4:32) We forgive ultimately because we have been forgiven. Forgiveness is a process, something that will always be required in this life, but because we have received such great forgiveness through Christ, we have the motivation and power to forgive others also.