How Many Times Shall We Forgive?

Tammy De Ruyter

READ : Matthew 18:19-22

Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.” (v. 22)

On October 2, 2006, 32-year-old Charles Roberts opened fire in a small Amish school in
Pennsylvania. He didn’t know any of his victims; and he had no anger toward the Amish
community. When the shooting stopped, five small girls were dead and five more wounded.
Hundreds in the community were devastated and the world stood by in stunned silence. The
situation brought unwanted attention to the quiet community, but the aftermath stirred
even more perplexed interest from a shocked and watching world. What happened?

The Amish community offered forgiveness. In the face of outrageous, heart-wrenching
circumstances, this group of gentle followers of Jesus forgave Charles Roberts, an
outsider, a killer . . . a broken and hurting man. With grief in their hearts, they
forgave as Christ teaches us to do. One Amish man simply stated, “If there are 490
victims, then we keep on forgiving.”

In human terms, this unlimited call to forgive is impossible to carry out. But through the leading of Christ’s Spirit, the habit of forgiveness can grow in us. Small matters prepare us for bigger ones. None of us is likely to face an opportunity to forgive as demanding as that Amish community did. Through this community of believers, the watching world saw the forgiving power of Jesus. But every day, in smaller ways, it can see the same thing in us.


Lord Jesus, give us the power to forgive, however many times we need to forgive.