I sat in a coffee bar recently, and having allocated myself an hour to read think and plan it didn’t take long as I reflected on my life to begin to be caught up with the extremely generous kindness of God that had, and is, being exhibited towards me. And others.
I began to muse over God’s favour, the miracles, healings, holiness,sin and forgiveness. And then something dropped into my heart; 70×7. A strange thought, but I knew what it meant and what it alluded to. In the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:21-22) Peter asks the Lord, “how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.”
My thoughts began to gather, not about forgiving someone 490 times (the real truth being generous, extravagant forgiveness that does not keep account), but on a bigger issue. In this encounter, Jesus is teaching us something about God’s dealings with us.
We sin. And then we sin again, and again – and again. Habitual sin can leave us wondering how many times will God continue to tolerate our failure and our unwillingness to walk in holiness before Him?
There are lots of answers, and particularly the book of Romans provides them in massive quantity, but simply speaking, something came to mind as I pondered this issue. If we are told to forgive ’70 x 7′ times to each person, for that one offence, what is the example God sets before me?
How does God forgive? The answer is staggering, encouraging and overwhelming, and I will leave you to consider it as you muse even now. but there is something else I find ultimately awesome, stirring and comforting.
“My grace is sufficient for you”.
And there it is. As much as God’s grace was all that Paul needed, it is for us.
For the Christian, our sin has been dealt with judiciously by the full penal death and substitutional atonement of Christ. Our sin was exchanged for Christ’s righteousness and we were declared by God to be holy. Our sin was removed as far as the East is from the West, forever. Our shame and guilt has been dealt with. The life we now live we live by faith in the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself for us.
His grace is vastly, adequately and uncompromisingly sufficient for you.
(2 Corinthians 12:7-10) So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations,[a] a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.