490 and Counting

Daily Devotional: Day 32

“Then Peter came to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21-22, KJV).

Let’s do the Math: 70*7 = 490. This is the number of times Jesus wants us to forgive the person who sins against us. In the preceding verses (Matthew 18: 15-20), Jesus had been teaching about how to deal with a brother who offends us. The context suggests that Peter’s question in verse 21 was a follow up to that teaching. For Peter, 7 seemed to be the maximum number of times one needed to forgive. He was probably hoping that Jesus would agree with him. But Jesus had a different number in mind: 490. Here we see the difference between man’s standard of forgiveness and God’s standard of forgiveness. It’s unlikely that anyone would sin against you 490 times. However, hypothetically, if someone did sin against you 490 times, you wouldn’t know about this number unless you were keeping a score. It’s much easier to keep a score up to the 7th time. But 490 is a different story. If you went through the trouble of counting someone’s sins up to the 490th time, it’s probably a sign that you have a lot of free time. Again, that is nearly impracticable. So, what’s Jesus telling us?

 Jesus wants us to understand that forgiveness isn’t about a number. Forgiveness is about love. And you can’t count love; you can only live it. When you start counting forgiveness or wrongdoing, you’re not walking in love. Forgiveness isn’t accounting; it’s a way of life. Jesus has loved us radically, and he wants us to love others the same way (See John 15:9). He has forgiven us radically; and he wants us to forgive others radically as well. Radical love keeps no score of wrong. The Father himself loves us so much that he does not count our sins (See Romans 4:6-8). If you truly know what Jesus has done for you, forgiving others wouldn’t be a burden. Today, let go anything you’re holding against someone. Set yourself free from that person by forgiving him or her. You can do all things through the Lord who strengthens you.


Daddy, I thank you for forgiving me all my sins through the blood of Jesus. Thank you for teaching me to be like you. Thank you for teaching me not to count others’ sins, but to forgive and let go. With you on my side, I can wholeheartedly forgive all who offend me. Glory to you, in the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further study: Hebrews 10:1-18

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: