“Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to t he jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
We continue to meditate on Matthew 18, as Jesus talks about forgiveness. Peter is wondering how many times he should forgive someone, before he doesn’t have to forgive any more. Jesus replies with a number that indicates unlimited forgiveness, and then follows by telling the parable of the unforgiving servant. In the story, a king forgives a servant of a huge debt he could never hope to repay. In return, the servant demands a small sum owed to him from one of his fellow servants, and shows no mercy.
David shows his understanding of his sins:
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
Although our sins impact our own lives as well as those around us, it is against God that we sin. If God had not made the rules, there would be no rules to break – no standards, no moral code. (And thus conscience, a knowledge of good and evil, speaks to the existence of God). God tells us that the wages of sin is death. We can be forgiven this debt we owe, this burden of sin, through the gift of God – eternal life, through Jesus Christ.
Just as God forgives us a debt we could never possibly hope to repay, we are to forgive our fellow humans when they sin against us. Their sins may impact us greatly, but they are not the same weight as the lifetime of sins we have been forgiven by God. Jesus will fairly judge all things at the end of the age. There are those who will have all their debts forgiven and enter life, and there are those who will pay for their debts and enter the lake of fire.
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:17-21
God’s command for us to forgive others, it turns out, is very sound psychological advice. When we hold onto bitterness, it is US who pays the price emotionally, not the other person. When we seek revenge, it is US who get in trouble or escalate the situation. It is far better for ourselves if we leave the judgement in God’s capable hands.
Dear Jesus, please help me to forgive those who hurt me. Let me release all anger and bitterness to You and place judgement in Your hands. Thank you for forgiving me when I sin against You. Please help me to extend this same mercy to others. Amen
Today’s Suggested Bible Reading:
Exodus 8, 9, 10 – Plague 2 – Frogs; Plague 3 – Gnats; Plague 4 – Flies; Plague 5 – Livestock Death; Plague 6 – Boils; Plague 7 – Hail; Plague 8 – Locusts; Plague 9 – Darkness.