The mother ran into the bedroom when she heard her seven-year-old son scream. She found his two-year-old sister pulling his hair. She gently released the little girl’s grip and said comfortingly to the boy, "There, there. She didn’t mean it. She doesn’t know that hurts." He nodded his acknowledgement, and she left the room.
As she started down the hall she heard the little girl scream. Rushing back in, she asked, "What happened?"
The little boy replied, "She knows now."
Jesus’ "Parable of the Unmerciful Servant" is preceeded by a succinct set of guidelines on what to do when a brother sins against you. (Matthew 18:15-17) Mark Roberts has done a whole series on this subject. Here is a summary:
1. First, deal with it one-on-one. Try to keep the matter private. Hopefully, this will be all that’s necessary to restore fellowship and friendship. (Verse 15)
2. If that doesn’t work, get help from others. (Verse 16)
3. If you aren’t successful with the first two steps, share the issue with the church. (Verse 17a)
4. If he refuses to listen to the church, put him out of the church. (Verse 17b)
If we would follow Christ’s clear commands we would have great blessings:
1. The blessing of heavenly power! (Verse 18)
2. The blessing of answered prayer! (Verse 19)
3. The blessing of Christ’s presence! (Verse 20)
Jesus has just given some teaching on restoring a church member who has sinned against you, and Peter comes and asks him, “How often should I forgive my brother, seven times?" (Verse 21)
We need to keep in mind here that a Jewish custom was floating around during this time that you were able to forgive a person three times for one specific sin. After that, you didn’t have to. So, when Peter said, “up to seven times” he was actually willing to go beyond the norm.
Jesus’ Answer on Forgiveness -- Christ answered the question with hyperbole. We aren’t to stop forgiving our brother at his seventh offence against us, but go on seventy times seven.
In other words, we aren’t really supposed to be counting. We’re supposed to be forgiving!