Matthew 18: 21-35 ; Ephesians 4:32 ; Matthew 6:14
As we go through life, there is no denying that we have experienced and inflicted hurt; its just how the fallen world is. Unfortunately, we tend to keep score cards of wrongs done, and that is why Peter (speaking for faulty men like us) asks Jesus “How often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”. Jesus answers, “No! Seventy times seven” He is implying that we are not required to keep score but to forgive without limit. It is immature and petty to count the number of times someone has offended you. It’s exhausting, to say the least. “This is the four hundred and forty-third time you have done this, when we get to the four hundred and ninetieth time, you will see my true colors.” It sounds like a laughable phrase but many are the times we keep score in our minds. Like Peter, we want to have rules for everything and place limits on our leniences, yet when we do this, we disregard the gift of grace.
Jesus begins narrating the parable of the unmerciful servant, with the intention of changing the way we think about this area of forgiveness. This servant owes the king millions of dollars, and when the king is collecting his debts, he pleads his case to the king and he is forgiven. In fact, his debt is canceled. This paints the picture of how when we come to God and ask for forgiveness, he forgives fully- when we are in Christ. So that as far as the east is from the west so does He put our sins away from us (Psalm 103:12)
On this very day as the servant heads home, he passes by his friend’s house who had taken a loan from him (thousands of dollars). The forgiven servant demands his money, as he violently grabs his friend by the throat and harasses him and he establishes that his friend has no capability to pay immediately. His friend actually falls on his knees and begs for time to repay the debt, all to no avail because he gets thrown in jail. It is sad that in many moments we are brutal- with words to those who are already downtrodden and to dramatize we even deny the person who has wronged us the opportunity to make it up to us. There is a big chance that if the friend had been out of jail, he could have begun to pay off the loan yet out of malice, the situation was made harder, inflicting suffering on him.
The forgiven servant suffers from short memory syndrome (SMS) and forgets that he had been forgiven, and deals mercilessly with his colleague. He forgets that a couple of hours earlier he had been shown grace and mercy by the king in his hour of need. He exerts the full force of the law on his brother with wrath and vengeance, bringing misery and suffering to his friend’s family. It is recorded that when the other servants caught wind of this injustice meted at their colleague by the forgiven colleague, they were very upset, grieved, and saddened. The injustice of revenge stinks and brings about pain to others. Injustice in whatever form- out of revenge or otherwise – shakes the society around us. The other servants take the report to the king – and the forgiven servant is summoned by the king, and the king rebukes him that his actions were evil and that he had dealt with his colleague unjustly. The king asks “Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?”. Due to his lack of mercy on his colleague, the servant’s debt is recalled and he is treated in the same way he had dealt with his colleague. He is thrown in prison until he can pay the debt.
This is how the kingdom of heaven is (v35) “That,s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters in your heart.”
Grieve, Forgive & Let Go
We tend to keep a running list of wrongs that have been done against us and an accounting of what we think others owe us for what they have done. We may feel they owe us an apology, a sum of money, or perhaps their lives. In our minds, every time we are hurt, the ones who hurt us incur a moral debt.
Relinquishing these accounts to God and forgiving the debts we feel others owe us is essential to our spiritual growth.We can’t change what others have done to us but we can write off their debts by handing the accounting process over to God.(Spiritual Renewal Bible)
When we look at the enormous moral debt God has forgiven us in Christ, we should be compelled to forgive others. This also frees us from the torture of festering resentment because freely we have received, freely we should give (2 Corinthians 10:8)
Let us not hear the word and not live by it. (James 1:22) Ask God to search your heart, try your mind and examine the depths of your heart (Psalm 139:23; Psalm 26:2; Jeremiah 17: 10) Is there someone you are holding captive in your heart? Are you festering resentment out of conversations yet to be had? Are you letting vengeance rule? Are you robbing yourself of God’s forgiveness by denying another? All of us want to live in the freedom of having healthy relationships and inviting joy and peace into our hearts
No extent of betrayal or hurt should cause us to take up that which we put to death through Christ; the works of the flesh (bitterness, anger, slander, malice, vengeance)Edith Chebet
If Jesus did, how can we not? In moments of excruciating pain over an unjustified wrong He still managed to lift up His voice and say “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23: 34). Even without their asking, Jesus extended the gift of forgiveness. How dare we withhold it?