Matthew 18: 21-35
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?”
Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.
“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.”
“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.
“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!’
“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 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.”
Every Sunday we gather in church we recite the Lord’s Prayer where we say, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sinned against us.” What does it mean to receive and give forgiveness?
We know that giving forgiveness is important, and I believe that we have no problem asking God to forgive us when we say our confession each Sunday. But why it is hard to forgive others, who we believe to have offended us?
I think one main reason why we have such a hard time forgiving others is because we don’t really know what forgiving others really is. We know it is required of us; we know it is a good thing to do, but the truth is that we don’t often stop to think about all the implications involved in forgiving someone. We often think that we are forgiving because there are some people whom we have forgiven. Often we don’t understand the implications of forgiveness for two reasons: one, we have not really understood what scripture says about forgiveness, and more importantly, we haven’t truly experienced the forgiveness of God in our own lives.
The parable teaches us that when God forgives us he forgives not just partially; God forgives us completely and unconditionally. We have to get this to sink into our minds because only forgiven people can forgive others. When we have understood how much we have been forgiven, we can take a first step to forgive others.