September 30, Sunday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Forgiven to Forgive”

Matthew 18:21-35

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. 23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.[h] 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii,  and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt.35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

Forgiveness is one of those topics easier talked about than actually done.  That’s why C.S. Lewis once said; “Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea until he has something to forgive.” In today’s passage, Jesus talks about the nature of forgiveness and that we should extend forgiveness to those who have hurt us.  

Peter starts by asking the question, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”  Peter thought he was being so generous, as it was taught by rabbis in those days that they should forgive up to three times.  So Peter doubles it and adds one for good measure. But Jesus responds in a typical fashion: “not seven times but seventy-seven times.”  His point: If you are counting, you are not really forgiving.

Jesus is showing us a new kind of forgiveness that should be radical in nature.  It’s a kind of forgiveness that takes away grudges and all kinds of record keeping of those who have offended us.  He then tells a parable of what forgiveness should look like: The king cancels a debt of a servant worth 10,000 talents; if you add up that amount, it would be about 200,000 years of accumulated debt.  This servant turns around and demands money from a fellow servant owing about 100 denariis, which is worth about three months wage. Just think about that comparison! It is absurd to think about the small amount of debt this servant is asking for when he had been forgiven of an unpayable debt. 

The point is this: our forgiveness of others has to start by recognizing how much our King – Jesus Christ – has forgiven us of our own sin and debt.  We could never repay Him with our good works or our own righteousness. It was our disobedience and rebellion that sent Him to the Cross so that He could freely forgive us.  If we do not recognize our own need for forgiveness, it makes forgiving others nearly impossible.

Is there anyone you need for forgive?  Jesus knows and understands the wrongs that have been done to us, but He asks us to choose to forgive, regardless of our emotions.  We need to understand that forgiveness starts with a choice, not with an emotion.

We need to experience the power of the gospel to forgive in this way.  I want to challenge us to take the courageous step of forgiving those who have hurt us—out of obedience to Him.  May He show you His grace to enable us to show that grace towards others.

Prayer:  Lord, give me the strength to forgive people in my life who have hurt me.  Help me to walk in obedience in taking the necessary steps to do that. I ask for Your guidance in this area of my life.  Amen!

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Kings 4 (If you haven’t read chapter 3 yet, read it today 😊.)

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