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      Then Peter came up and said to him [Jesus], “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say seven times, but seventy times seven.Matt. 18:21-22

Dear Lord Jesus, I bet I’ve read this stunning story of extraordinary grace “a thousand times,” since the day you robed me in your righteousness. But I need to keep on reading it, because the issue of forgiveness is as daily as breathing, eating, and sleeping.

I reveal myneed for your grace every day; by the things I think, the words I speak, and the choices I make. But I also know that you’ve already forgiven all of my sins—past, present, and future. My guilt is gone; no condemnation is left; I’m secure in your love. Such is the wonder of the gospel. Where can greater riches be found? That’s the most rhetorical question I could ever ask.

    That’s why, right now,I’m moved to confess how much I take your forgiveness for granted, Lord Jesus. I recognize this because there are a few “seventy times seven” forgiveness scenarios which are gnawing away at my peace and nibbling on my joy, like tiny piranha; emotional cancer cells; peace devouring mold.

I’ve forgiven seven times, but I occasionally relish the thought of a little pay back. I can easily default to being a bit aloof, withdrawn and smug. My inner elder-brother (Luke 15) wants to come out and play prosecuting attorney. The temptation to gossip and tell others not to trust those who have hurt me can get intense.

In short, Jesus, I’m a mess—a man not as free as I want to be; not as kind as I’m called to be; not as “gospelicious” as I long to be. Thank you for the freedom to express these things before you today.

Here’s my plea: Come, Holy Spirit, come; apply the soul-liberating power of the gospel to my stubborn heart today. Slay the “wicked servant” in me, who occasionally wants to exact payment. May the incalculable riches of grace empower me to repent more quickly and forgive more fully. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ merciful and mighty name.

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Scotty Smith

Scotty Smith is the founding pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee. You can follow him on Twitter.

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