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Seventy Times Seven

Matthew 18:21-35; Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 243-251


The Message

God wants me to forgive others from my heart.

Memory Verse

“Forgive your brother or sister from your heart” (Matthew 18:35).

Have you ever been so angry at someone that it was hard to forgive them?


One day Peter asked Jesus, “How many times shall I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” In Jesus’ time the priests and rabbis taught that people had to forgive a person only three times. So Peter may have thought he was being generous by suggesting the number seven.

Not seven times, Jesus said, but 70 times seven. That’s 490 times! Wouldn’t it be hard to keep track of that number of times for each person we have to forgive? Jesus said that big number because He does not want us to count the times we forgive someone. Instead, we should be willing and ready to forgive. Then Jesus told a story to make His point.

A certain man worked for a king, managing the king’s money. One day the king sat down to look at his accounts. He discovered this man’s account was millions in debt, far more than the man could ever repay. The king ordered the man, his wife, his children, and everything he owned to be sold. All the money would help repay the debt.

The man fell on his knees and begged for mercy. “Give me time,” he said, “and I will repay everything I owe.” The king knew the man could never repay so much money. He felt sorry for the man, so he canceled the debt and let him go. The king’s servant was so relieved he rushed away. On his way out he met another servant—one who owed him some money. It was just a little bit, about a day’s wages.

The king’s servant grabbed the second man by the neck. He began choking him. “Pay back the money you owe me,” he demanded.

“Please be patient with me,” begged the second man. “Give me time, and I will pay back everything I owe you.” But the king’s servant refused. He had the second man thrown in prison until he could pay the debt.

Other servants of the king saw the whole thing. They immediately reported it to the king. The king called the first servant back. “You wicked servant,” he stormed. “I canceled millions you owed me. Shouldn’t you have had the same mercy on someone else? Someone who owed you so little?” And the king had his servant taken away to prison.

We are sometimes like the king’s servant. He owed more money than he could ever repay. He wanted forgiveness, but was unwilling to forgive others. But just as the king forgave his servant, God has forgiven our sins. And since God has forgiven us, He asks us to treat others with mercy and kindness and forgiveness.