What would you do?
You owe a great deal of money and are late on payments. They are threatening your house, your family, to take everything you have if you don’t pay your debt. You plead with them to just give you a little more time and you’ll pay them back the full amount.
So, they agree and you’re freed. You begin calling everyone you know that owes you money. Some can pay, but there’s this one guy who owes you a lot and, unfortunately, he can’t pay anything yet.
He pleads and asks for a little more time.
What do you do?
Do you make him pay? Do you threaten him and hold him accountable until he can pay? Or do you extend to him the same mercy that was given you?
Have you been wronged before? Often times it’s those that are closest to us that are the hardest. Maybe a family member or a dear friend. Or even worse, a fellow church member.
What they did was wrong. It was hurtful. Even at this moment you are probably remembering what happened and the anger starts to boil up inside.
So, what do you do? Do you stay angry? Do you have the right to do that?
“Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.” (Matthew 18:21-35)
First off, I love this guy Peter. He said, “Lord should we forgive 7 times?” You know why? Because the law stated 3 times. So, to be better than the Pharisees, he threw out the “perfect” number and said 7. Haha! Oh, Peter!
But Jesus wanted the disciples to think bigger, deeper, and more eternal.
7 x 70
Jesus wasn’t saying forgive 490 times and stop. He was saying always forgive… just as your Father has forgiven you.
Imagine a running list of your sins. Be careful not to trip over the long running trail of mine as you think of yours. Every single one of those, God has forgiven you for. And He didn’t throw you in prison, He didn’t only forgive part of them, and He didn’t require you to earn the forgiveness. He just said, repent and ask for forgiveness. (1 John 1:9)
And do you know what happens to your sin when the Lord forgives it? Does He sit around and mull over it, waiting for you to mess up again and throw it in your face? Far from it!
“The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:8-12)
So what do we do? If we have been forgiven so great a debt, one that we cannot repay, time and time again, what should we do when someone wrongs us?
Show mercy and grace to all, not just the ones we think deserve it.
Lord, help us to forgive! We cannot do it on our own. But through your Spirit, we can do all things that you have called us to do. Bring our focus off the hurt and pain of what’s been done to us back to you. Back to what you have done for us. Rid our hearts of anger and resentment and fill us with compassion and love towards one another! Amen!