WHAT IS THE CALCULUS OF FORGIVENESS?
Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive a brother, maybe “seven times?”. Jesus answered, “Up to seventy times seven.” This was another way of saying that Peter should forgive as often as needed, without counting or calculus.
To further help Peter understand, Jesus told a parable. A parable is the use of an easily understood natural analogy that is told to illustrate a deeper, spiritual truth.
Jesus told a parable concerning a king that had a subject who owed him “ten thousand talents” (A “talent” was a unit of gold weighing around 75 pounds, which would be worth $1.2 million today, multiplied by 10,000 it would be $12 billion). The king forgave his subject completely, erasing his debt. But the subject’s heart was unchanged. He immediately went out and put in prison one who owed him only “one hundred denarii” (A “denarii” was a Roman coin made of about 4 grams of silver. It was considered a day’s wages).
The point of the parable is that God has forgiven us a sin debt much greater than we could ever repay. Therefore, we should always forgive others because we have been forgiven so much more. Our capacity for the forgiveness of others is drawn from God’s limitless supply of forgiveness for us. We are to love and forgive unconditionally, as God through Christ has loved and forgiven us. As the apostle Paul wrote, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Col. 3:13).
The calculus of forgiveness is not based on our capacity for forgiveness, but on its receptivity. We forgive because we are forgiven.
PRAYER: Our Father, we are overwhelmed at the price You paid for our forgiveness. For You sent Your only begotten to pay our sin debt. Strengthen us with Your power of forgiveness to always forgive as You have forgiven us, without limit. In Jesus’ name, amen.