There is this little passage in the book of Matthew, you may have heard of it: "Then Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times."
For the longest time I always read the scenario Peter puts out there in this way. Someone steals Peters donkey thus sins against him. Peter is to forgive. But then that same person sins against Peter again by spreading rumors about him. Peter is to forgive that as well. Then that same person sins against Peter by bringing false charges against him. Peter is to forgive that as well. At some point, the question becomes - how many times do I have to forgive this person who keeps committing sins against me? Jesus says, seventy seven (a number designed to be so high that one cannot keep count and thus forgiveness to the number of infractions is endless.
This interpretation is reinforced by the "forgive and forget" idea. In which we are to forgive something and then wipe it from our minds and forget it ever happened. It seems that forgive and forget is not humanly possible. In fact if there is one verb in the bible that reoccurs the most it may be the word "remember". We are to remember all sorts of things, Gods grace, the covenants, the exodus, commandements, care for the sojourner and outcast, etc. It can be argued that it was when the people forgot was when they got into the most trouble in the Bible. As it is said, those who forget history are bound to repeat it.
Some might say, but if we remember the sins of others (and don't forgive and forget) are we not disobeying the very teaching of Jesus at the beginning of this post? Are we not commanded to forgive forever? Remembering the sins of others does not mean we hold grudges or that we resent others. Perhaps this is what Jesus means when we should forgive seventy seven times. We are to forgive the same (single) sin seventy seven times.
Jesus knows we are not able to forgive and forget. In fact to do so may be irresponsible on some sins. But if we do not forget the sin then we can fall into the trap of resentment. Knowing we cannot forget past sins and trying to help us avoid resentment toward others, Jesus may very well be saying, if someone steals you donkey you have to forgive that sin seventy seven times. If someone spreads rumors about you, forgive that sin seventy seven times. False charges - forgive that seventy seven times.
Could it be that Jesus is saying, forgive someone who sins against you as many times as you remember that sin - seventy seven times. We cannot forget the hurts others cause us, but we can remember to forgive every time we see those wounds.