What is forgiveness like? Can it run out? Does it have a limit? Can it be exhausted? Can the same repeated offense jeopardize it? Check out this text from Luke 17:3-4. “Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” A forgiveness without limit is envisioned here. In his commentary, William Hendriksen states, “Jesus emphasizes that the spirit of forgiving love recognizes no boundaries or limitations. What Jesus means, therefore, is ‘Forgive the penitent without ever stopping.'”
Note the phrase “in a day” in the text. I am really glad that Luke chose this language as he wrote this paragraph. Screwing it up repeatedly in the same day does not remove us from the realm of grace. Darrel Bock sums it up well in his commentary on Luke. “In Matthew 18:21, as here, the repetition of sinfulness does not preclude forgiveness. Whether seven times a day or seventy times seven, forgiveness is called for, since the goal is to restore relationships within the community.” We are to understand that forgiveness on the vertical is being mirrored on the horizontal. The lavish daily grace and forgiveness of the Trinity is to be played out in our relationships with one another. The limitless nature of forgiveness specifically needs to find its way into our minds, hearts, and interactions.