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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, this Scripture jumps off the page at me today, especially after seeing an incredible production of “Les Mis” last night. Though I’m quite familiar with both the play and these verses, I relish them both, because forgiveness is as daily as breathing, eating, and sleeping.

I know I sin against you—in thought, word, and deed—every hour of every day. I also know (hallelujah!) that you’ve already forgiven all of my sins—past, present, and future. On the cross, you took the fullness of our sin; and by faith, I received the gift of your righteousness. I can’t hear this good news too much or too often.

When we confess our sins to you now, you’re neither informed nor shocked; and there’s no chance we’ll ever exhaust your patience and kindness, mercy and grace. Greater riches cannot be found anywhere else.

   Jesus, right now I need to draw of my standing in grace and the power of the gospel, because I’m right in the middle of a couple of “seventy-times-seven” forgiveness scenarios. My joy and freedom are on the line.

I’ve forgiven seven times, but now I smell the stench of self-righteous smugness in my attitude. If I threw my heart into “cruise control,” I’d gossip and enjoy the thought of their fall. My “inner Javert” wants the law to prevail over grace. In short, Jesus, I’m a mess. Writing this prayer shows me just how cool and ugly my heart can be, but also how much greater is your forbearance and love are…

Come, Holy Spirit, come and apply the power of the gospel to my convicted heart. Slay the wicked servant in me. Humble me, gentle me, settle me, focus me, free me. I choose, yet again, to forgive and forgive some more. Love in me and through me, for the glory of God. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ holy and tender 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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