The 70*7 Forgiveness rule


Prior to writing this blog, I reached out to a Theologian friend of mine to find out why Peter, in Matthew 18: 21-35, suggested that forgiving 7 times was a fair standard. This is what he said;

I think there was a Rabbinic debate about it and it was considered that forgiving your neighbor 3 times was sufficient. So, Peter picks a higher number probably guessing that it would be enough to be generous (which honestly, how often do we really forgive people even 3 times when they hurt us over and over again? Seven, is really generous from a human perspective

In a commentary written by Silver Denarius, he stated that, in Judaism a limit was set for repeat offenders. These individuals were thought of as ‘not repenting’. Hence, such individuals would be forgiven on the first 3 counts but not on a fourth count.

I will be frank with you, when my friend asked the question, ‘how often do we really forgive even 3 times’, it struck a chord. This is not because I currently hold grudges but because I have not given people the opportunity to get to that ‘third time’ where I am offended. Now this might seem as if I am saying that you should terminate all your relationships that result in hurt but this is far from that! If anyone lived like that, he or she would feel extremely isolated because in this short life that I lived so far, I have realized that it is impossible to find one who is perfect and if you found a ‘perfect’ person, it is probably through this perfection that hurt will find you- trust me, it will find you.

So what am I saying? As long as my DNA reads differently from yours, we are bound to have some form of miscommunication. Obviously, the more different we are, the higher the chances of miscommunication. It is therefore not surprising that as the world becomes more ‘globally connected’ and people are ready to embrace each other’s differences, certain traditions and mannerisms that seemed untraditional are embraced or at least understood from fundamental perspectives even by some who may be considered ultra-conservative. By fundamental perspectives, I mean morals, respect, values, etc. For instance, understanding the meaning of a person’s hand sign/signal is as important as understanding the person’s cultural and educational background; what one culture might consider offensive might be considered as insignificant elsewhere.

I will delve into a practical way of handling hurt in an upcoming post titled; ‘the evasive boundary of forgiveness- an oxymoron’. However, I do want to tackle the 70*7 rule of forgiveness which has nothing to do with the number 490. I believe you would need a journal of a sort to make a record of all the counts of hurt. Mind you, if you are encountering 10 people in a day, that means your maximum limit for those particular people would be 4900. This rule, therefore, seems to use this exaggeration to show how forgiveness should be incorporated into one’s daily life. Whenever something is incorporated into our daily lives, we make less and less of an effort to achieve it. Also, if you’ve picked up any new skill, you know that the basics are important. Forgiveness, like love is a decision – one which should not be dependent on the next outcome. One which we give freely, while LEARNING how to approach people in the future. I capitalized ‘learning’ because leaving that out would not only be a disservice to yourself, but it would be the reason why the 70*7 rule would seem impractical.

“Forgiveness is one of those things that pay off with time. It is like an investment- an investment on your heart.” — Kukua Anthonyin

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