The Questions We Ask
In Matthew 18:21, Peter asks the question: “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” (ESV). Peter is basically asking here: “How many times MUST I forgive my brother when he sins against me?” Peter is looking for a bottom line from Jesus – where does my obligation to forgive end? Jesus’ response to Peter shows that Peter was asking the wrong question in the first place.
We often ask the wrong questions when it comes to serving God. We ask questions like: “Do we HAVE to attend church on Sunday evening or Wednesday night,” “Is fasting something we MUST do as Christians,” “How often do I NEED to read the Bible,” “How far can I go before this becomes sinful,” etc. All of these questions have something in common. At their heart, they are all asking: “What is the minimum that I must do as a Christian to be right with God?” Making God King of our lives should not be about doing the minimum we can to make Him happy. It should be about serving Him with our entire being and doing whatever we can to improve our relationship with Him and be more like Him.
Jesus’ response to Peter shows that Peter should have asked: “What would help me show the love and mercy of God?” The answer to that question would not be “forgive up to seven times,” but would be “keep on forgiving just like God forgives you.” Instead of asking questions about the minimum that we MUST do, we ought to ask questions like: “What would most help me grow spiritually?” and “What would help me become more like Christ?” And when we start asking those kinds of questions, then we will know how we should answer the other questions.