Today’s text is Matthew 18:21-35. It has much to teach about mercy and forgiveness.
21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
23 Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 27 Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.
28 “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 30 And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. 31 So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. 32 Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ 34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.
35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”
Have you ever been forgiven a huge sin against someone else, been grateful for it and yet found yourself not forgiving another person soon thereafter and being rather harsh with him or her? That’s what Jesus’ message is about in the parable beginning in verse 23.
While we can be grateful for God’s forgiveness towards us, the ultimate being Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, sometimes it’s difficult to extend that mercy towards others. Why? I think one of the reasons is that forgiveness costs the forgiver greatly. It cost Jesus pain, suffering and the end of His life while He was here among us in the flesh. Yet, He freely gave His life so that we can be with God for eternity. The master who forgave the debt incurred quite a financial loss, and yet he transcended that to be merciful and forgiving to his servant. We see the servant behaving unlovingly and unmercifully towards the one in his debt.
We live in a society filled with entitlements that we think are ours. Sometimes those entitlements stand in the way of spiritual love and mercy and sacrifice. That’s surely what happened in the case of the forgiven servant. He thought he was entitled to the return of his money (and he actually was). That entitlement caused him to forget how forgiven he had been even though he did not deserve it.
This gives greater understanding to the concept of unmerited pardon, doesn’t it? You and I don’t deserve to be forgiven, and yet we surely are. May we gratefully extend unmerited pardon to others as God leads.
Pastor G and I pray you heed Jesus’ teaching and truly live God’s spiritual law of love towards Him, others and self.
copyright 2013, Pastors George and Sharon Billington, All Rights Reserved