The phrase, ‘sounding like a broken record,’ probably has lost much of its meaning with the demise of vinyl records. Of course, the record was not really broken when a word or phrase of a song repeated itself over and over. It was usually a scratch or piece of debris causing the needle to get stuck. But the phrase came to mean repeating one’s self. This repetition devalues whatever is said, making it sound insincere. The more one repeats one’s self, the more what is said sounds canned or contrived.
Today’s verse describes a similar scenario. Someone who apologizes seven times within a twenty-four hour period loses credibility. How could it not seem forced and artificial? Yet, Jesus is saying that even so, we are to forgive. Even more difficult is the idea that we are forgiving a brother or sister in the Lord (verse 3). Our expectations of them are usually higher! Jesus added to this challenge when He answered Peter’s question with the number 70×7 (Matt. 18:22). The idea is that we are not even to count but always extend that forgiveness to those who ask.
What Jesus asks elicits the same response as that of His disciples, “Increase our faith!” How else could I rise to this kind of challenge? And yet, I so often ask the Lord to forgive me over and over, like that broken record. And He does, every time. He never withholds His pardon. If He is so ready to give grace to me, then I need to extend that same grace to others.
Lord, help me to be as gracious to others as You are to me.