My Lord and my God, to You I lift my voice in praise. I pray for wisdom which gives me new insights into Your Word.
Read Matthew 18:21-35
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matt. 6:12).
Peter, prompted perhaps by Jesus’ previous words (15), asks how few times God expects him to forgive and seems to think he is being generous (21). The rabbis suggested that three times was enough! Does our own forgiveness ever hide a sense of self-righteousness? Is it the real thing or do we guard deep-seated resentment? The “seventy times seven” (22, KJV) implied a continuous, infinite stream of forgiveness–just as God forgives us.
This masterful kingdom parable (23-34) would have shocked, engaged and surprised Jesus’ listeners–and made them smile. What the servant owed (24) was beyond imagination: think national debt rather than winning the lottery! The master knows the servant’s promise to pay him back means nothing–and he cancels the debt. Of course, we hear the message–God forgives our debt too–but there’s more: a right response to God’s forgiveness transforms our attitudes and actions. However, unlike the king, the forgiven servant offers no way out to his debtor (30). The servant’s harsh treatment of his fellow laborer–for a relatively small amount–reveals an unchanged, self-centered spirit. The servant’s lack of forgiveness brings the inevitable consequences of its own imprisonment and torture (34).
As the story progresses, our sympathies are first engaged with the underdog, then we are horrified by his actions. Finally, to our surprise, comes the realization that we are this man (35). We might not act on it, but does our simmering resentment leave our brother despised in our imagination? That’s not the liberating forgiveness of God. Jesus asks us to “forgive … from your heart” (35). “I will … remember their sins no more” (Jer. 31:34), says our King. Let’s offer this joyful, generous gift of forgiveness and forgetfulness to one another. It’s not only our own lives that will be transformed.
Allow the Holy Spirit to examine your relationships. See if there is anyone you have simmering resentment towards, someone you despise in your imagination. You know what to do about that!
Forgiving Lord, I am forever grateful that You forgive me. I need special grace to truly forgive others. I ask for Your power to be made perfect in my weakness.
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