Hey there, Mr. Christian!

 
 
 
Forgiveness.  Such a simple word.  Grace and mercy, they flow off the tongue so freely.  But do they flow from the heart so freely?  It seems not.  Unfortunately, this is where so many Christians get caught up.  We exalt in the grace and mercy so freely given to us by Jesus Christ.  But we get tripped up in holding our grudges over the things others do to us.  We want our trespasses forgiven, but we keep a detailed record of those trespasses against us.  What does Jesus have to say about that??
 
Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.”   Seventy-seven here is often translated seventy times seven.   The point is, Jesus tells us that we are always to forgive, even those who do things over and over to us.  We are never to withhold forgiveness when sincerely asked.  Forgiveness does not mean we forget.  It means we move on from it and do not hold ill feelings in our heart.  We don’t hold grudges. We don’t hold bitterness.  Jesus further illustrates this with his parable of the unmerciful debtor –


Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made.  So, we have a king, and we have a servant.  Kind of like we have Jesus, the King, and all of us, His servants.  So, Jesus the King came to Mr. Christian the servant to collect a debt Mr. Christian could not pay.  As a result, quite properly, Jesus the King took his recourse to collect the debt.  He ordered Mr. Christian, his whole family, and all he possessed to be sold to repay the debt.

So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.   So, Mr. Christian begged the King for mercy, promising to repay everything he owed.  Of course, 10 thousand talents, depending on which measuring system was used, was AT LEAST $7.5 MILLION.  In other words, there was  no way Mr. Christian had any chance of actually making good in this promise.  No chance the King would ever collect this debt.  But – rather than dealing harshly with the servant and holding the line on the debt owed, he released Mr. Christian and fully forgave him his debt.

But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt.   So, Mr. Christian loaned some poor sap about $5 (literally).  Notice here the relationship.  It’s not King to servant, but servant to servant.  Our hero and his debtor are societal equals, both in the same socio economic rung.  Maybe, just maybe, a good way to repay the King who forgave him would be to, as we say, pay that forgiveness FORWARD and show his fellow servant grace and mercy as well, if on a MUCH smaller scale.  But NO, Mr Christian does not do this.  He demands his Justice.  This man owes him a Big Mac, and until he gets his Big Mac, he can rot in jail.

When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place.   His fellow servants.  Or – his Christian brothers.  Or rather – just those lost souls we know in our lives.  They are watching our unforgiveness, our heavy-handedness, our hard hearts.  They don’t like what they see.  They are going to tell the King about this.  Of course, the King has nothing but the best surveillance technology, and he’s already seen what’s happened.  He sees his servant – the one who PROMISED to repay a debt he had no chance to ever live up to.  He sees Mr. Christian, Mr. Happy, Mr. Church on Sunday with a smile on his face.  He sees him, and He’s not happy.

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 the 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.”   Busted!!  That’s right, the King sees all.  He knows all.  The King does not go straight into the punishment.  He points out how wicked Mr. Christian really was.  How ungrateful.  Why didn’t he forgive his fellow servant his puny little debt?  Especially after the forgiveness, grace, and mercy the King himself had previously shown him.  Hadn’t he begged for his own mercy?  How much would he have done in order to earn the forgiveness the King showed him freely??!!   
So, why not forgive the trivial debts we are owed??    If we are truly grateful for all we have been forgiven, won’t we forgive those around us?  Won’t I forgive my wife her little trespasses?  Won’t I forgive my children?  My mother?  My co workers?  My boss?  After the debts and trespasses of which I have been forgiven by my savior, my King,  I better learn to pay that forward in THIS life.  I better learn true forgiveness.   I had better have the Holy Spirit working inside me to even give me power to even try.  Because it is only through the grace and mercy shown me by the King that I can even begin to show the same to those around me.  Those I feel owe me that apology.  Because if I don’t, then I’m going to owe the full debt I’ve been forgiven.   And trust me, Mr. Christian.  I just can’t pay that back.



“Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 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 the 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.””

 

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭18:21-35‬ ‭ESV‬‬
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

John Lewis

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