The Isle of Pelicans is its official name, but you might better know it as “Alcatraz” .. and for thirty years from 1933 to 1963 it housed the very toughest of prisoners. Some twenty-six tried to escape, but only 5 succeeded. Alcatraz, surrounded by the chilly waters of the San Francisco Bay, was considered the finest maximum security prison of its time.
There is a prison more secure than Alcatraz, GitMo / Guantanamo Bay Naval Base (also called Gitmo or GTMO by the U.S. Army, U.S. Marines, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Coast Guard – or Supermax (short for “super-maximum security”) the name used to describe “control-unit” prisons, or units within prisons, which represent the most secure levels of custody in the prison systems today – or any other prison on the face of the earth – the prison I speak of is the prison of the human heart that refuses to forgive.
We like forgiveness most when we are in a position to receive it. When we’ve sinned, we want to hear about God’s amazing grace. It is when you and I are in a position to extend forgiveness that we become quite a bit more stingy. But did you know – we are forgiven in the exact same proportion with which we forgive others? That’s right .. To the degree that I forgive, the forgiveness of God is made available to me.
Peter wanted to make sure he understood forgiveness when he asked Jesus how many times he should forgive a brother who sinned against him .. and Peter thought seven was a very generous number .. imagine his shock when Jesus multiplied that number by 70! What He was really saying was that we should only limit our forgiveness to others if we want God to limit the forgiveness He offers us. Simply put, if unlimited forgiveness is what we desire, unlimited forgiveness is what we should be willing to give.