Forgive as much as you have been forgiven because the debt is too much for any of us to pay!
In the book of Matthew chapter eighteen, we find a man that owed his master an exorbitant amount of money. It’s a simple storyline of a master who first follows the law, which states that every member of the man’s family and all that he owns is to be sold, this settles the debt. With great anguish, the man falls to his knees and ask the master for patience. Finally, the master is moved with compassion, releases the man, and forgives all of his debt.
The forgiven man goes to another, who owes him a hundred denarii and demands that payment is made. When this man asks the forgiven man for patience and compassion, none is found. The forgiven man puts him in prison until the debt can be paid.
Doesn’t this story seem a little unbelievable? I mean, how can someone who was just forgiven so much turn around and hold a much smaller debt against another?
I think the first thing we need to understand is the difference between the debts:
- The first man owed ten thousand talents. Some equate this to 160,000 years of wages, basically an incomprehensible amount of money.
- The second man owed one hundred denarii. This may have been about 3 months of wages. For many of us, there is no doubt, this would still be a very large debt to owe someone but it is not incomprehensible.
The end of the story:
At the end of the story, the Master was very angry, and the Forgiven man was delivered to the torturers until his debt could be paid. Jesus then turns to His disciples and says: “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” Matthew 18:35
Did you notice that the story is clear that the forgiven man refused to forgive a “fellow servant” and Jesus’ words say “forgive his fellow brother.” I get a distinct impression that this lesson on forgiveness is aimed directly at the brothers and sisters in Christ. Wow! Ouch! Come on, have you ever held something against a brother and sister in Christ? If you were honest and answered yes, then you know how true the principle of this story is. We lock the ones who offend us in a prison (so to speak) holding the offense against them until they make it right. At the same time, we are suffering in torment, because we are fighting against the way of the Kingdom. The bitter sting of torment leaks out in our passive comments and social media posts, but we continue to hold tightly to the prison keys and wait for payment. I will be the first to admit that I have been there and I will also be the first one to tell you that there is freedom in opening that prison door.
We want closure, we desire an apology, we are desperate for unfair things to be made right, and I understand all of this. As a matter of fact, the story is very clear about two things: THE DEBTS WERE REAL AND THE DEBTS WERE LARGE. According to law, we have a right to demand that the wrong things are made right and there may be times that we have to fight for justice; that is not what I am talking about.
Today, brothers and sisters, I have three simple questions that could set you completely free!
- How great was the debt that you were forgiven? (10,000 talents or 100 denarii)
- How great is that debt that you are demanding someone else to pay?
- Will you choose to look at your brother or sister in Christ today and be moved with compassion; letting go of the need for closure, an apology, a conversation…?
I am very passionate about individuals living in purpose and helping others do the same. When we don’t forgive, I believe we hinder ourselves and others from moving forward. Are you ready to choose forgiveness today? If you answered yes, then choose it every day until it flows from your heart.
as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12 NIV