I read that last one in a Bible study a few months ago--that it's possible that in Matthew 18:22 Jesus was saying "7, 70 times." Really, I don't know Greek or Hebrew, but I do know that Jesus was demanding forgiveness without condition--or limit.
Many times while traveling around the U.S., I was presented with the idea that missionaries are super-human. No one physically gave me a cape, or made a bronze statue of me (thankfully), but many did put me on a pedestal. (And I am the last person that belongs up there!) It was usually inferred by little phrases, meant to be compliments:
"I always wanted to be a missionary, but _(fill in the blank)_."
"I could never leave my family."
"I don't like bugs and I really don't like snakes."
"I could never do what you're doing."
"You're so selfless for doing what you're doing."
One side of a missionary scoffs at this--each one of us has a "but" that could have held us back in our home country; I don't enjoy not being a regular part of my family members lives; bugs--yea, if you've been following me a while, you know how I feel about those--and snakes, not currently an issue, but not on my Top 10 List of Reasons to Live in Paraguay; I can't do what I'm doing either; and lastly--here's the kicker--MISSIONARIES ARE NOT SELFLESS.
Naturally, we are just other humans. And what drives all of mankind? Self. My comfort, my desires, my goals, my dreams. In every culture around the world, mankind is driven by self-preservation. When I take a look at the last time I was in an argument, or the last time I was offended--too often it is because I am insisting on my way and want everyone else to do what I want. Not really Christ's example, is it?
What sets Christians apart, ought to be the desire to be like a glove. A glove, laying on the shelf in the garage, is completely useless. It's just sitting there, collecting dust. Yet, when put on a hand, it can be an aid to raking leaves, shoveling snow, catching a baseball, or driving a car. It's nothing without the life that gives it purpose. Just like that glove, the actions of a Christian are nothing without the Life that flows through us (2 Corinthians 5:14.)
Since Christmas, I have had the opportunity to go on three weekend trips with friends to visit their family members. It was so humbling to have friends that I've known for less than five months say, "Come be a part of my family for one of our two most important holidays of the year" and "We're going on vacation, come with us." And yet, on two of those trips, I made it painfully clear to my friends that I have a natural, fleshy side--that I am not a super-human. Thankfully, I have been able to go back to those friends, to apologize and explain that I was in the wrong.
Missionaries and Christians are not super-humans. But, more importantly, we are "more than conquerors" (Romans 8:37) because Jesus Christ has fought the ultimate battle for us. He has forgiven us of all our sins.
Read that again.
He has forgiven me of ALL my sins.
This battle we think we're fighting has already been won. Because of Jesus Christ's death on the cross, mankind has a way back to a whole relationship with God. The ultimate forgiveness has already occurred. My task now, is to walk daily in that forgiveness, to continue to forgive others, and to be quick to ask forgiveness as well. I pray that last one gets a break for a long time.