The Knot of Forgiveness

January 23rd, 2013 · by Tom Stuart · Relationship with God

Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!” Matthew 18:21-22 NLT

This is a “Good News” passage of Scripture because it gives us a glimpse into the forgiving nature of God.  The underlying message of this interchange between Jesus and Peter is that God is much more prone and committed to forgiveness than we are.  The phrase “seventy times seven” is a figure of speech indicating there is no real limit as to how many times a person’s sin will be forgiven.  While it is a challenge to the likes of Peter who must forgive the repeated sinner, it is wonderful news for those who struggle with the shame of repeated sin.

As Shakespeare said so eloquently “To err is human; to forgive [is] divine.”  Much of human experience is designed to convince us of our need for the divine.  There is nothing like our human depravity to drive us to acknowledge the desperate need for a forgiveness that is divine. 

This “seventy times seven” teaching of Jesus illustrates this truth.  Such unlimited and unending forgiveness can only have its source in the divine.  Jesus’ expectation of Peter, and all of us for that matter, is that we draw on His divine nature of unlimited forgiveness for ourselves and thereby be enabled to dispense the same to others.

There is a delightful analogy, not original with me, that portrays the genius of God in His readiness to forgive.  It illustrates how His loving kindness overrules the alienation we feel when we sin by replacing it with loving acceptance. 

Envision God in heaven holding each person by a string.  When you sin, you cut the string.  Then God ties it up again, making a knot – and thereby bringing you a little closer to him. Again and again your sins cut the string – and with each further knot God keeps drawing you closer and closer.

Such was the case of the woman, a notorious sinner, who came to Jesus weeping and lavishing her love upon Him by washing His feet with her tears.   “Therefore I tell you,” said Jesus, “her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” (Luke 7:47 ESV)  Such loving forgiveness from God naturally engenders a devout love in return.

God’s math and God’s ways continually defy human understanding.  His ultimate purpose, in and through our cutting ourselves off from Him through sin, is always to reconnect us to Himself.  We must never forget that no matter how many times our sin severs the string, God will always tie a new knot and draw us closer.  

I would be interested in your thoughts about this important topic.

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6 Responses to “The Knot of Forgiveness”

  1. I trully believe that forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. One of my co-workers, at least once a week, remarks how much she hates a certain supervisor and that she knows it isn’t right. She also has high blood pressure and suffers from bitterness and a bad attitude. I’ve mentioned to her about forgiveness, but she can’t let it go. I can’t help but think that some of her health issues might go away if she would let it go and forgive. Good message Tom, thanks.

  2. I love that image of God cutting and tying the string. We can do the same by forgiving one another and thus bringing our relationships closer and closer. Sometimes when a person has hurt us deeply and we forgive them (perhaps time and again), they find it hard to believe that we can keep on forgiving. But as Ann mentioned, letting go is the kindest and healthiest thing we can do for our families, friends, co-workers AND ourselves. Most of us have heard the saying, “What goes around, comes around”. If we keep on forgiving, hopefully it will become contagious. Way better than catching the flu, right?

  3. Great observation. Praying your co-worker has a revelation of the freedom and health that comes through forgiveness. Thanks for the comment.

  4. Your extension of the analogy to our forgiveness of others does pose a “contagious” possibility. Wonderful to think about. Thanks for the encouraging words.

  5. Forgiveness was a dilemma for me ,while dealing with a wolf in sheep skin.I have read about those working against us to be forgiven & it is a blessing to be at the forgiving-end. So God helped me to forgive such a person ,who is playing with the Ministry of God. The Way is to forgive & get rid of the person. Just ignore the whole situation & leave it for the Just God to take care.Since God is tolerating Satan ever since. As such I need not entangle in His affair. This forgiveness is proving a blessing for me in every aspect of life. Rom 8:28. Your message is reviving.

  6. You bring out another important aspect of forgiveness in terms of our continued attitude toward the person we forgive who continues to be an unrepentant offender. The word for forgiveness in Greek is aphiemi, which is used in other places in the New Testament to mean release or leave behind. There is a place, at least attitudinally, to not carry or hold onto the affects of the offenses perpetrated against us. It is interesting that the word used in the passage where the disciples are described as leaving their boats to follow Jesus is the same word aphiemi. Thanks for your comment.

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