Numbers are constantly floating around in my head. Odd, I know. But I’m an accountant by day and writer at night. I can’t seem to help myself.
Back in the years I used to run…well jog…well wog, (walk and jog). I would do math in my head to forget about the heat and the no pain/no gain thing (it was opposite for me – I had lots of pain and no gain). Yep, the old multiplication tables rolled over and over in my head. Or division. Or whatever. I would calculate how fast I was running a mile. Er, how slow I was wogging – whatever!
When I see numbers in scripture, I instinctively do the math. Reading through the book of Numbers, I double checked God’s work. Guess what? He was right! God’s always right.
Then I got to the scripture in Matthew about forgiveness. Peter was asking Jesus how many times he had to forgive someone who sins against him.
“Up to seven times?” he asked, knowing that the rabbis taught that three times was enough. Jesus’ response?
“I tell you, not as many as seven,” Jesus said to him, “but seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:22 HCSB
So of course, the accountant in me multiplied it out, because I wanted to know: How many times do I have to forgive? Don’t judge – you know you’ve done it too!
Four hundred ninety times. Thats a lot of counting, and a lot of forgiving. It seems to me that it contradicts 1 Corinthians 13: “love keeps no record of wrongs.” And we are called to love, because God first loved us.
Let’s think about it. It would take a lot of time and planning and record keeping to track 490 offenses against us. I may be an accountant, but I don’t enjoy the drudgery of all that paperwork. How about you?
Here’s the funny thing:
By the time we have forgiven someone that many times, we are in the habit of forgiving, aren’t we? Forgiveness has become second nature.
Wow! I love the way Jesus grows us, don’t you? He takes something like math, and uses it to show us how to forgive others. Because really, who wants to keep counting? It’s a burden.
And forgiving others is freeing.
My sweet friends, let’s walk in freedom!
Grace be with you,