One of the most interesting parables Jesus gave was in response to a question from Peter. It’s found in Matthew 18:21-35. I’m going to paraphrase the passage so I don’t have to type 14 verses. Peter asks Jesus, how many times do I forgive a trespass? Do I forgive up to 7 times? Jesus answered, 70 times 7. Now that’s 490 times in anyone’s math, but not in Jesus’. The number Jesus was telling Peter was an infinite number of times.
Interesting. Now my first thought would be that if I’m wronged by you once, shame on you. Wrong me twice, shame on me for being a dope. In myself, I’m incapable of forgiving someone over and over for the same offense, or any offense. Jesus goes on with his story, telling how this CEO was settling accounts with his workers. One of the workers debts got way out of hand. He owed the boss 10,000 talents..well, how about 10,000,000 dollars, that’s today’s equivalent. Well he gave the boss a sob story, begged the boss not to give him the axe, and he would repay him every cent. The boss had compassion on the worker and forgave him…every cent of what he owed. Well, the worker slithered out of the bosses office and ran into a guy that owed him $10.00.
The guy begged his forgiveness, and told the man he’d pay the ten clams as fast as he could. He said no,and put his buddy at work into a place called debtors prison, until every cent was paid. Now his fellow workers saw what happened. They were so mad they went and told the boss. The boss was infuriated and said, you wicked servant, I forgave your huge debt, but you wouldn’t forgive a small debt. So off to prison the worker went for the rest of his life, or the $10 mil was repaid. Justice. Here’s how Jesus ends the story:
So My heavenly Father will do to you if each of you from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses. Matt.18:35 (NKJV)
This passage is not only interesting, it’s also convicting…to me. I know that I was shown compassion, more than dozens of times when I was drinking, and as much living clean and sober. I have no right to not forgive anyone. Who do I think I am? If you and I don’t forgive a wrong, we don’t realize the scope of what we have been forgiven of. We place ourselves in a debtor’s prison, so to speak. We put a huge barrier between ourselves and God. I receive forgiveness, but turn around and sin by not forgiving. Then wonder why God doesn’t answer prayers for me.
Think about the ones that have harmed you in the past. Maybe it’s a spouse who can’t come home from the bar. Maybe it’s a co-worker always taking the credit for things you have done. Maybe it’s the pastor of your church that won’t let you sing a song. Now think about the way you yelled at your kids when you came home in a crappy mood, and they forgave you. Think about how you stole money from a friend and the friend forgave you. Think about how you’ve lied to your parents, and they forgave you. I could go on but you catch my drift.
Let go of unforgiveness. Grudges turn into bitterness that can affect every aspect of your existence, even over to physical and mental illness, that can destroy you, or twist you into insanity. Forgive. Ask God to help you love…His way. He will come to your aid and place a whole new light on your way of living and forgiving.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith