Read Matt 18:21–35
Mat 18:21-22 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?” (22) Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven….32-35 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. (33) And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ (34) And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. (35) So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
Believe it or not Jesus is not giving us a number to count to when forgiving people. He is using hyperbole. No worse than hyperbole, the number is actually infinite. In this parable of the unforgiving servant or the unbelievably forgiving king, Jesus puts forth to us a lesson in faith. The king forgives the servant something like 16 billion dollars in today’s market. One can only guess the generosity of the king to lend him that much money. But there does come a day of accounting. The servant doesn’t have it to pay back. He pleads with the king and instead of giving the guy time to pay back or throwing him into prison, the king forgives the debt completely. What a loving, forgiving and merciful king. God is like this king. Exo 34:6-7 “The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, (7) keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…”
The servant on the other hand doesn’t appear to trust the king’s generosity or forgiveness. What do we find him doing? He trying to get money he loaned out to others and even throwing a guy in prison who couldn’t pay, who asked for the same treatment the wicked servant asked the king for. He doesn’t even give the guy the mercy he asked the king for. The problem with this guy is he doesn’t believe the king has really forgiven him or at least, he thinks the king is going to change his mind so he trying to get as much money as he can for the day the king does change his mind.
We are like this when we don’t forgive other people who ask us for forgiveness. When we don’t forgive it is because we really don’t believe God has forgiven us in Christ Jesus. We want someone else to point God to when He comes for us. Look at Bob! Look at Sue! Did you see what they did to me! Just like our parents Adam and Eve, we blame everyone including God but ourselves. Jesus taught earlier, Mat 6:14-15 “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, (15) but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” If we believe God forgives us freely for Christ’s sake, we are forgiven. But if we don’t believe that we will not forgive others and consequently, God will not forgive us either. But it’s because of our lack of faith in His mercy which results in being unforgiving in our lives not the act of unforgiving.
Lord God, heavenly Father, grant us such faith in the mercies you granted us freely in Christ Jesus, that we bear your glory in forgiving those who sin against us, dying to our right of vengeance. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.