Matthew 18:21-35 New Living Translation (NLT)
21 Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone[a] who sins against me? Seven times?”
22 “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven![b]
23 “Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. 24 In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars.[c] 25 He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt.
26 “But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ 27 Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.
28 “But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars.[d] He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.
29 “His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. 30 But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.
31 “When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. 32 Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ 34 Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.
35 “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters[e] from your heart.”
If I had to choose 1 thing that has revolutionized my life and drastically changed my relationship with the Lord and others, it would be the principle of forgiveness. The more I study God’s word and learn to apply His truth to my life, the greater Jesus’ sacrifice for me is made real. Still, I cannot fully comprehend the depth of His love – and His willingness to carry the guilt of my sin; past, present & future on His shoulders. Just like Judas, I have betrayed Him over and over and yet, because His love is wider and deeper than I can fathom, He sacrificed His perfect life for mine.
I am forgiven.
My sins are washed as white as snow.
I owe Him nothing.
I am FREE to boldly approach His throne and worship Him for all eternity.
After my salvation, I began to catch a glimpse of the magnitude of God’s forgiveness and how it could change my life….but it took a great many years for me to be willing to forgive others just once- much less 70 x 7!
My first debtor was my husband. I believed he owed me for all the sins he engaged in while we were married because I had suffered the consequences of his actions.
When the king summoned the servant to pay his debt (vs 23-24) & discovered he could not, the king ordered him, his wife and his children to be sold into slavery.
When I first read this parable, I must admit- it ticked me off. This servants wife and children were innocent of this mans actions and yet THEY were going to have to suffer alongside him! What the Holy Spirit has since revealed to me is this: we don’t sin in a vacuum. Our actions aren’t self contained- they affect not only us, but those whom we are in relationship with. God designed husband and wife to function as one. When Eve sinned, it affected her and Adam- and unfortunately, their boys continued in the family legacy of sin and hiding. The same principle applies to my family. When I am deceived and begin to take matters into my own hands, my husband suffers for it and so do our children. Do I think that’s fair? Not particularly. But His ways are not my ways. I do understand, however, that in order for my family to advance God’s Kingdom, as He has called us to do, Doug and I and our children MUST love God and love each other….and when we are sinned against, offended, hurt, ticked off, disgruntled, you name it, we MUST be willing to forgive. Otherwise, we open up everyone in our family to the torture of the enemy- and a life of bondage.
For our family, the evidence of “torture” is exposed in a few ways:
-bickering over stupid stuff
-constantly pointing out others faults
-not wanting to engage in conversation with anyone
-hiding in our rooms
-escape through electronics (tv, video games, iphone, ipod, etc)
We stop it by choosing to forgive the debtor. We don’t ignore that there is a debt. Instead, we willingly release the debtor from paying it back (whether they acknowledge or apologize for it- of not). By an act of our will, we chose to extend mercy where punishment is required. As a result, we are released from the clutches of the enemy and are FREE to receive an abundance of blessings from the King!
Since all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of Christ, it can be concluded that all of us need to be forgiven- and need to forgive. We must, therefore, humble ourselves before the King of Kings and confess our sins against Him, receive His forgiveness, then ask Him who we need to forgive (we shouldn’t be surprised if the list is very long…the Holy Spirit is very thorough & He wants us to walk in TOTAL FREEDOM, not just see the prison door open & remain trapped inside).
It’s a difficult principle to understand and apply, for it requires us to willingly lay down our “rights” to show love to another. Jesus is the ultimate example- and the Holy Spirit, whom He sent to help us, is the only one who can enable us to forgive our debtors… whether that be our spouse, our children, our parents, our in-laws, our friends, or our brothers and sisters in the body of Christ. But I can tell you, in all honesty, it CAN be done!