01-20-08

It might have started off as an innocent question, trying to find out just how far you should go.  Jesus had been talking about facing a person who has hurt you when Peter pops the question, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” (Mat 18:21). It’s at this point that Jesus tells the story about the man who owed a very large debt.  After the master forgave the humongous sin, the servant turned around and demanded that his friend pay him back a smaller debt that he was owed.  When the master heard about this lack of forgiveness, “his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.”  It’s at this point that Jesus gives a warning, “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” (Mat 18:34-35)

Forgiveness is something we all want to receive, but the truth is that we are often pretty reluctant to give it.  It’s one thing when I am faced with my own sin and realize my helplessness to pay back my debt to God.  I cry desperately for my Master’s forgiveness, which He willingly gives.  But I’m a bit slow to put myself in the shoes of that acquaintance that has wronged me.  I feel justified with my bitterness.

Beloved, forgiveness is not an easy thing.  Like Peter, I set a pretty low bar when it comes to how often I forgive.  Forgiveness is something I have to constantly work at and refine in my life.  Forgiveness is not something I can grow complacent in.  It’s something that God is very serious about in my life.  I need to forgive like I’ve been forgiven.