Matthew 18:23-35 – “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
“At this, the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
“His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’
“But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.
“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger, his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
Imagine, if you can being one of the characters in this story. What if you were the king? Would you or could you have been merciful to the “servant” who owed you so much money?
If, instead, you were the beneficiary of such mercy and grace, would you be more likely to have the same attitude with someone in debt to you? Or would you be more like the man in the story and fail to extend that grace to your “brother”?
These are big and weighty questions I know but they are essential if we want to live in the fullness that Christ offers us.
In between are all those things, well hidden, where we think we have fully forgiven someone but deep down there is pain and resentment. Just prior to this discussion, Jesus had told Peter that he was to forgive “not 7 times but 7 times 77 times”. (MT 18:21-22) I think he meant we aren’t to hold on to anything in our past, but that we are to forgive. Fully, completely, thoroughly.
Like you, I struggle with issues like this. Currently, I’m digging through metaphorical “boxes” from my past and looking closely for things not yet forgiven. When on a journey such as ours, it’s best to travel light and this means that old baggage can’t come with us. My encouragement to you today comes from the beautiful lyrics penned by Kathryn Scott, who told us to “lay every burden down at the foot of the cross.” To this I say AMEN.