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Forgiveness – Equals 490!

Matthew 18:21-22 Then came Peter 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.

Peter asks Jesus if he should forgive someone who sins against him, seven times. But Jesus is quick to respond to Peter, “not seven times, but seventy times seven.”

Jesus took the number seven and brought a whole other equation to the meaning.  We know that seventy times seven equals 490.  So, what does Jesus mean exactly by saying that? Once they’ve hit 491 it’s all over? No chance of forgiveness?  Not quite.

The point and message probably means that we can’t put a number on forgiveness. Jesus didn’t. So, if our LORD and Savior forgives, so should we. We must forgive if we are to expect forgiveness from our Father. We must show forgiveness to others as well.

Mark 11:26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.

As humans we sometimes have difficulty in the whole “forgiveness” thing. Our sinful nature makes it exceedingly hard to embrace the idea of seventy times seven. That is quite a statement.

We might find it hard to let go of resentment for someone who hurt us to the very core. Or love someone who has careless disregard for us, is harsh and mean to us or family members. It may be a hardship to give these individuals a chance to reconcile with us.  As Christians we must overcome and “choose” forgiveness.  Jesus tells us so.

It is a common theme in the Bible. We are told to forgive. We are given examples of forgiveness.

How many of us can actually say they do forgive? Is there someone right now that you are having trouble forgiving?  Or perhaps you might be struggling with the thought of someone forgiving you?

Being a Christian is rewarding and joyous, but it can be conflicting at times. We try to walk the path of righteousness, surely those of faith aspire to do just that. However, being human, we will fall short. And when we fall short of perfection—and we will because only ONE is perfect—isn’t it comforting to know we will be forgiven of our shortcomings?

I don’t know about any of those reading this article, but I always think of the number “490.”  When I take that into proper perspective and embrace the promise and words of Jesus, I know that I will be forgiven. And when truly contrite of heart go forward and try my best once again.

In Isaiah 44:22,  God promises He will blot out your transgressions. Your sins will evaporate and be no more.  He says through Isaiah that when we confess our sins to Him, He will forgive us, erase them all. Nothing will be recorded against us.  The thing is, God does erase them…but we will remember them, hopefully not to repeat them ever again.

But there is always that number 490.

Forgiveness 490, thank You LORD!

Father, thank You for forgiving me my sins, and for guiding me, leading me, directing me, may I always be willing to forgive others, embrace Your promises, and fulfill Your will for my life, today, tomorrow and always, in Jesus’ name, Amen.


C D SWANSON is an Author of 22 plus books, freelance writer, contributor to various websites, including The Bottom Line Ministries/Faith News. She's an active member of Faithwriters- and has her online website/ministry for over 15 years. It is her greatest joy to write what’s in her heart, and thus her favorite form of expression is in her devotionals. She and her husband share a deep love of God and dote on their fur baby Mickey. Retired Director from Long Term Healthcare Industry, she continues to be an advocate for many. To check out other writings of this author you can go here:

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  1. Thought Jesus put a number to Peter’s inquiry, it was just as you stated. A number that seems too distant to reach for towards everyone whom we may need to forgive. No one is going to carry a journal around marking off the number of times they can eventually hit the mark and conclude that this person is now over their limit. What sort of love are we talking about? In many ways we need to forget about their offensives too and with God’s help we can find the means to do that.
    Another way I look at this is if we are to see it as a big number to be given to others as a pass up to a certain point, even if we were faithful in the area of forgiving, then should God treat us in that same way? We would strike out in no time flat if He held the same accountable towards us.
    An article of great value for the disciplinary attitudes as a believer in Christ.

  2. Hello Cora,

    I love reading your comments and wisdom in the word and appreciate you taking the time to respond.
    I agree with all of which you stated. I always look at that particular passage as the “unparalleled love” the LORD has for us.

    I get something rather simple and even “base” from it… that we are to forgive overall. At the same time, knowing God forgives us. And that there is never a “number” per se to forgiveness.

    Jesus’ parables and explanations are powerfully moving and a great indicator in which we are to live and conduct ourselves as faithful followers.

    Thank you, Cora.

    God Bless you~

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