Then Peter came and said to Him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, 'Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.' And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, 'Pay back what you owe.' So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, 'Have patience with me and I will repay you.' But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. Then summoning him, his lord said to him, 'You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?' And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart."
- Matthew 18: 21-35
This is a simple, easy to understand parable that the Lord told so we could understand the depth of how important forgiveness is in the Kingdom of God.
When we forgive, we grant each person their humanity. We say to our neighbors, friends, strangers, families and loved ones...that it is OK to make mistakes. This is the kind of God that we have.
Yet many of us continue to hold grudges and damn those who have crossed us and cannot grant the same grace to others that we enjoy. We somehow think that we are different and have our own excuses to justify ourselves. It is our downfall. Our unforgiveness holds up the division among ourselves that God did not intend for mankind and which grieves the Holy Spirit.
God takes pleasure when we love, forgive, and reconcile with each other. Jesus stood by the helpless adulteress who the Pharisees accused of crime, and who were unwilling to forgive her. He forgave the thief on the cross who was in the midst of being executed. He healed and forgave everyone who came to Him. Yet today, time and again some of the most religious followers in our society try to persecute those who they think are sinners, thinking this is the way of the Lord. But Jesus never did that. His only rebuke was to those same religious people who tried to expose the sins of others, yet hiding their own sins from view. They accept mercy, but won't give it to anyone else.
And we all do this to each other. As Christians, if we are to truly follow the words of Jesus, we must grant each person who lives and has ever lived, grace and forgiveness despite the blunders, crimes, sins, hypocrisy and harm they've done to others and us.
How many of us remember the faults of people and brand them for their sins and mistakes? When we recall people, we hold up their lives for scrutiny. When we meet new people we search for their flaws and are the first to volunteer that negative information to others, to the delight of our friends, family and co-workers.
But why should we? Why should we forgive the sins of those who have seriously hurt us by their selfishness? Because Christian or not, we are no different than anyone else. We all have our own blunders, crimes, sins, and hypocrisy that we have committed, but have conveniently made excuses for and forgotten, thinking we're not that bad. It is really our pride that won’t let us look back at our bad selves. Yet to those to whom we have sinned against, they see us very clearly.
But it is only through grace and forgiveness that we can begin to heal from the damages of sin and unforgiveness that consumes the world. It is the only way we can learn from our mistakes, understand our humanity and heal from the pain we have used to separate ourselves from each other. So many wars, battles and fights continue on for years and decades because of our resistance to forgiveness. This resistance prevents any future change for the better. This resistance prevents any future healing.
Unforgiveness breeds anger, resentment, revenge...and imprisonment. We are imprisoned by our own bitterness.
We need to actively reflect on our past and present encounters and relationships and really forgive from our hearts, those who have taken advantage of us, hurt us, abused us, snubbed us, wronged us, laughed at us, and cursed us, because this is how we will become free from the grip of the sin that keeps us hostage.
And we also need to do likewise and heal the pain we have caused to others by confessing those wrongs to them and seeking their forgiveness. We really don't realize how much our actions and words have scarred some people in our past and present.
We are not to collect or recall any sins done against us because that is the grace, goodness and mercy which Jesus has granted to us. He has freed us and forgiven our sins, so we also must forgive the sins of others. This is the only way that our hardened hearts can open up again to love, peace, healing and freedom. When we grant the grace of God to others, we are doing as the Lord has done to us.
When we accepted Jesus Christ as our Saviour, He forgave and forgot all of our sins, past, present and future. He forgave those sins we willingly do, and those sins we don't think we're doing. He has forgotten the sins of our youth and those from 5 minutes ago.
Psalms 103:11,12 says:
as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His loving kindness toward those who fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us."
God has thrown our sins that far away. So we must also throw away the sins of others from our sight. When we do, we begin to see each other with love and kindness instead of contempt. Only then can humanity heal from the ravages of unforgiveness.
tells Peter that forgiveness is a continuous activity and there are times
that we will have to forgive some people "seventy times seven".
Yet most of us can't even forgive someone who has wronged us just once.
There are just two phrases we have to practice: “I’m sorry”, and “I forgive you.”
Every day we need to look at the people around us with a fresh start. The past is forgotten. Each day is brand new. Because within this forgiveness, this permission that we grant to others to be imperfect, to make mistakes...to be human...is our own salvation.
© 2007 Edrick
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