“And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.” (Luke 17:4 KJV)
Seven times a day? Not just seven times, but seven times within a single day! Our human instincts tell us that someone has not learned a lesson. That someone is grossly unable to correlate something done wrong with that same something repeated. Like a coin that is flipped dozens of times and is never capable of remembering the result of the last flip. We all need forgiveness. In fact, we all eventually see the added value in a quality critique. Yet, if we are trying to learn the practice of something would it not be more efficient to just come at the end of the day and ask one time forgiveness for the whole day’s worth of errors? Would it not save time, energy, and embarrassment to just come clean once? After all we are imperfect people practicing something that we have a great deal to learn about.
Hang on… Learn what? What is the objective that we are really being taught? Are we really in the position to begrudge someone who is repenting of an obvious error? Ah… How easily we are pushed into that position though! Was not Jesus just speaking of temptation in verse 1? Those offenses that are sure to come that draw out the facilitator in us? Wow, how easily we can get blind sided by that one. Do you think a repentant person that shows up at our door seven times a day is there exclusively for his benefit? Do you think we may be handed, on a silver platter, an opportunity to practice the practice of forgiveness? Not to mention the smelling salt reminder of genuine humility.
Perhaps Jesus was offering His disciples a glimpse into how love works verses how that compares with the strict discipline of how correct living ought to happen. Do you think Jesus will forgive each of us seven times today as we come to Him with the exact same problem that we messed up at each turn (see also 1 John 1:9)?
“So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.” (Luke 17:10 KJV)