In the gospel of Matthew, Chapter 18, verses 21-22, Kefa (Peter) asks Yeshua (Jesus) if he should forgive his brother for sinning against him as many as 7 times. Yeshua answered not just 7 times, but 70 times 7 times.
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I understand the point Yeshua wanted to make, but I think this verse is misleading. Here’s what I mean- if someone has sinned against me that many times, regardless of whether or not I forgive them, I have to be pretty stupid to keep falling for it!
In the original Star Trek TV series, there is a situation where Scotty tells Sulu:
“Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”
We are warned that if we do not forgive on earth, we will not be forgiven in heaven (Matthew 6:14); however, it should be understood that forgiving someone doesn’t mean we should automatically trust them, nor should we allow them to continue to sin against us. That is just foolish; remember that Yeshua told his disciples they should be wise as serpents, yet gentle as doves (Matthew 10:16). Continuing to place yourself in a position where people can hurt you is not being very wise.
With wisdom comes understanding, and if someone continually sins against you, you need to understand that even if they apologize every single time, their apology is empty. I learned a long time ago that people do not mean what they say, they mean what they do.
If someone continually sins against you, whether it be the same sin or a different one, their apology must be taken with more than a grain of salt- you’ll need an entire 50 lb. block of the stuff!
The way I handle this is to automatically forgive someone who sins against me because whether or not they ask for it is irrelevant. If they are truly repentant, they will ask for forgiveness and that’s a good thing; and if they never ask for forgiveness, that’s OK with me. My forgiveness of them makes me right with God, but it has no influence on their relationship with God. They need to repent of their sin and ask God for forgiveness, as well as asking me.
So, I forgive those who sin against me and, if they continue to do so, apology or not, I will put them away from me. Yes, I will continue to forgive the sins, but to prevent myself from being a fool I will put that person out of my life.
In other words, I ain’t giving them the chance to get anywhere near the point of 7 times 70.
“Turning the other cheek” is not to be taken literally, and since I have a limited number of cheeks to begin with, the smart thing for me to do is when I realize someone sinning against me won’t stop, I need to take myself out of that relationship.
So, forgive those who sin against you, and do so automatically, but do not allow someone to have the opportunity to continue to sin against you. That isn’t Godly, it’s just plain stupid.
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That’s it for today, so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!