I often bring up the topic of our need to forgive and to release folks we have imprisoned with our unforgiveness, and I was thinking about this the other day, and thought about the time Peter got up the nerve to ask Jesus, “Master, if someone has really blistered my butt, how many times do I need to forgive them? Seven times?”
Jesus looked at Peter and replied, “Oh bless your heart. Aren’t you the spiritual giant today? Mercy me. Bro, it’s worse than that. You have to forgive them seventy times seven! And Pete, that’s every day! Now don’t go thinkin’, ‘Hey! So there is a limit, right? Once he reaches 491 times, then I can smack him one?’ No, you silly bunny, your God in Heaven has forgiven all of humanity’s sins, so you have no right to harbor unforgiveness in your heart! If you aren’t willing to forgive them, I ain’t gonna forgive you!”
Then, in the next few verses (Matthew 18:23-35), Jesus tells a parable:
God’s kingdom 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 everything he owned, to be auctioned off at the slave market.
“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 whole debt.
“The servant was no sooner out of the room when he found one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars. He seized him by the throat and demanded, ‘Pay up. Now!’
“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.
“The king summoned the man and said, ‘You evil spittoon of a man! 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, my friends, is exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn’t forgive unconditionally anyone and everyone who asks for mercy.”
Oh sure, you feel some injustice was done to you, your Lord certainly understands that, but in the whole scheme of things, when you compare it to what our Father did for us, it really isn’t that big of deal. The bottom line is that Jesus plainly and very specifically said,
“If you forgive the failures of others, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you don’t forgive, your Father will not forgive you” (Matthew 6:14-15). Period!
It might be harsh, and you may think it is unfair, but this is what we must deal with. We no longer belong to this world and way it functions. We belong to another Kingdom, and it is governed by completely different standards and rules.
(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add you to the list: Mail List)