Consider the story of Joshua. We remember Joshua as the great military leader who oversaw the conquest of the Promised Land, yet Joshua does not seem to have started out as a fearless leader. We see that in instructing him, Moses told Joshua twice to "be strong and courageous" (Deuteronomy 31:6-7), and when God formally commissioned him, He told Joshua to "be strong and courageous” (Deuteronomy 31:23). Then, again, in the opening chapter of the Book of Joshua God tells him three times to "be strong and courageous" (Joshua 1:6,7,9), and even the people of Israel encourage Joshua to "be strong and courageous" (Joshua 1:18). So the man who became a great leader was encouraged on at least seven occasions to have the strength and courage he needed, then the statement doesn’t appear again. Eventually, in fact, once he grew in confidence, we find Joshua using exactly these same words to encourage the Israelites (Joshua 10:25)! Just as God, Moses and the people continued to encourage Joshua until he had gained experience and confidence, it is only as we persevere with encouragement and help that people come to where they don’t need it to the same degree.
When we look elsewhere in the Bible we see many other examples of this willingness to help others in an ongoing manner, to do good to them as many times as it might take. In the New Testament, the story of the Good Samaritan is an excellent example. The Samaritan did not just give some first-aid to the man in the ditch and go on his way – he worked through the problem step by step, with repeated actions: “He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’” (Luke 10:34-35).
In the same way, Paul tells us: “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak…” (Romans 15:1 ESV), and the plural “failings” or “weaknesses” does not just mean at one time, but through time – as long as there is a need. This is why Paul also tells us: “Let us not become weary in doing good” (Galatians 6:9), because the needs of others are often ongoing and at no time do we reach a point where we have “done enough” if a need still exists. If we can embrace the concept of forgiving others “till seventy times seven,” perhaps we should also be willing to continue to help others keeping this same attitude in mind.