Timmy peaked through the blinds to make sure Jeff was gone. When he couldn’t see him, he dashed across the street to Mark’s house and rang the doorbell. While Timmy waited uneasily for someone to answer the door he didn’t notice Jeff crawling out from under the porch of the vacant house next door with a frightened kitten in his arms. But, Jeff saw him!
Feeling betrayed, Jeff shouted, “I’m never playing with you again, Timmy!” The kitten scratched Jeff’s arms, wriggling free of his grasp. Tears filled Jeff’s eyes, not from the pain of the scratches, but from the hurt his friend had inflicted on him.
Running home, Jeff quietly closed the back door behind him before creeping up the stairs to his
bedroom. The bed creaked when Jeff threw himself onto it, burying his head in his pillow to muffle the sobs that escaped from his chest.
Father glanced up from his newspaper when he heard Tim’s bed creak above him. “Is Jeff home?” he asked Mother.
Mother glanced at the clock on the wall. “He shouldn’t be. He went to play at Timmy’s. He has
another forty-five minutes before he needs to be home for dinner.”
Creak, creak. Mother looked confused. “Unless we have a ghost, someone’s up there.”
Father knocked on Jeff’s door. “Jeff, are you in there? Can I come in?”
Jeff rolled onto his back and took a deep breath. “I guess,” Jeff answered, wiping away the tears, even though he knew his freckled face, red from crying, would betray him.
Father sat next to Jeff on the bed. “What’s wrong, Champ?” he asked.
Jeff laid back down on the bed and stared at the ceiling. “I went over to Timmy’s house to play, but he said he couldn’t till he cleaned his room,” Jeff explained. “Then, he tried to sneak over to Mark’s house, but I saw him! Mark told me he does it all the time, but I didn’t believe him. Now, I know it’s true. I’m never going to forgive him! If he wants Mark for his best friend, he can have him!”
Father could tell that the hurt Jeff had been feeling was quickly turning into anger. What would Jesus do? he asked himself. Father almost laughed out loud when the thought came to him. Of course! My Father taught me to ask myself that question when I was a boy and I’m still asking daily.
“Jeff I know you’re hurt and angry, but before you decide to never forgive Timmy, I would like you to ask yourself, ‘What would Jesus do?’ Can you do that for me?”
“What would Jesus do?” Jeff didn’t need to think about it for very long before answering, “Jesus would forgive him. But, Dad, Mark told me Timmy does it all the time!”
“Did Jesus put a number on how many times we should forgive others?” Father asked.
Jeff thought for a moment. “He, did!” Jeff remembered. “When Peter asked Jesus how many times he had to forgive, Jesus told him, ‘Seventy times seven.’” Jeff quickly did the math in his head, Zero times seven equals zero. Seven times seven equals forty-nine. Four-hundred-ninety!
“Wow, Dad! Jesus said to forgive four-hundred and ninety times!” Then he sheepishly added, “That’s a bunch of times. If I do what Jesus would do, I’ll have to forgive Timmy about four-hundred-and- eighty-something more times.”
“That is a lot of times,” Father agreed. “So, do you think Jesus meant that we should keep track of how many times we forgive others? Then as soon as we reach the four-hundred-ninety mark we shouldn’t forgive them anymore?”
Jeff pictured himself carrying a notebook around, putting check marks next to all his friends names when they did something hurtful. Jeff’s face then turned really red when he thought about his friends putting check marks next to his name when he did something that hurt them.
“Since none of us are perfect, we would be spending an awful lot of time keeping track. We wouldn’t have much time to do anything else” Jeff answered. “I think Jesus was just using seventy times seven as an example. He want’s us to always forgive. Doesn’t He?”
“That’s right!” Father picked Jeff’s scriptures up from the night stand and thumbed through them. Stopping at D&C 64:10, he read, “‘I the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.’ You see, Jeff, the Lord knows that if we don’t have forgiving hearts our hearts will harden and we will be miserable. He wants us to forgive others so we can be happy. Does that make sense?”
Jeff thought about the hard tight feeling he had in his chest when he had vowed to never forgive Timmy. How miserable he felt. He wouldn’t want to feel like that all the time. “It sure does!”
Father ruffled Jeff’s hair. “You’re a good kid, Son. Get washed up–it’s almost time for dinner.”
“Dad, is it okay if I go find Timmy first? Now that I’ve forgiven him, I need to tell him I’m sorry and hope he’ll forgive me!”
by Margie Nauta Lee