8.26.2013 A Story About Forgiveness

Please find a quiet place to focus on these scriptures for a few minutes, asking for an open mind and heart to hear God’s wisdom for us today.  

Matthew 18:21-35

The Message

A Story About Forgiveness

21 At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?”

22 Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.

23-25 “The kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his servants. As he got under way, one servant was brought before him who had run up a debt of a hundred thousand dollars. He couldn’t pay up, so the king ordered the man, along with his wife, children, and goods, to be auctioned off at the slave market.

26-27 “The poor wretch threw himself at the king’s feet and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ Touched by his plea, the king let him off, erasing the debt.

28 “The servant was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars. He seized him by the throat and demanded, ‘Pay up. Now!’

29-31 “The poor wretch threw himself down and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ But he wouldn’t do it. He had him arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid. When the other servants saw this going on, they were outraged and brought a detailed report to the king.

32-35 “The king summoned the man and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy. Shouldn’t you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who asked for mercy?’ The king was furious and put the screws to the man until he paid back his entire debt. And that’s exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn’t forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy.”

Yikes!  Verse 35 is a real stinger!  As I ruminated on that last verse, the word “heart” jumped out at me – that word is used in the NIV version:

35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

I thought about the difference between forgiving someone with my head, in my mind, and forgiving them in my heart.  One is very different from the other.  There have been times when I forgave someone because I knew I was supposed to do so, and nodded in agreement after they said “please forgive me”.  You know, just like Peter wanting the exact number of times he should forgive.  And then, a few days later, I find myself thinking about the hurt or pain that caused the request for forgiveness, and I’m framing my relationship with them through the hurt or pain.  That’s not forgiving from the heart, that’s just a robotic, fake forgiveness.

Jesus gave up EVERYTHING so that we might be freed from sin, guilt, pain, worry, etc. by His death on the cross and resurrection.  As Pastor so eloquently described in his message yesterday, we need to be “framing” our forgiveness looking through Jesus’ eyes.  He always cares, always loves, always FORGIVES.  And he truly wants to see us in relationship with each other in that framework… tents of grace for each other… compassionate and forgiving with our hearts.  Not just because supposed to, but because we want to out of thanksgiving for the gift of forgiveness given to us.  It’s not easy for me though, and that verse 35 is a convicting reminder of the cost of being forgiven and not forgiving…

Father God, give me Jesus’ framework for forgiving in my life.  Give me Jesus, kingdom of heaven eyes to see how I can forgive with my heart.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.