As I read the text for this morning, Matthew 18:21-35, my heart just stops and I break out in prayer to my God. Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive?” Peter then says, “Is seven times enough?” Jesus responds, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.” In other words, as many times as that person sins against you, you are to forgive them. But, in my prayer to the Lord, I cry out for help! Forgiving someone who has hurt me so badly is the hardest thing in the world to do.
In His parable, Jesus tells his disciples about a servant who owed the King a great amount of debt. The King was going to sell his servant and his whole family – wife and children and all their belongings so that the debt could be paid. The servant begged the King to be patient with him and he would pay off the debt. Out of pity for his servant, the King released him and forgave the debt (v. 27). This servant left that place and came across a fellow servant who owed him money. He took this man by the throat and demanded payment. His fellow servant begged for patience and promised he would pay. But, the servant refused and threw him into prison. The King heard about what the servant had done. The King called the servant in and said, “I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have mercy on him like I had mercy on you?” Then the King handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. In other words, since the King forgave the servant, the servant must forgive his fellow servant.
Here is the clincher…Jesus then says, “So my Heavenly Father will also do to every one of you if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart” (Matthew 18:35).
There will be a judgement day. In this parable, the King is our God. Our God who forgives us over -and over -and -over again. And, we are God’s servants. Here is the thing that we often forget – all our fellow Christians – our brothers and sisters, and those we worship with in our churches are God’s children too. God loves them even when we feel like we cannot because they have hurt us. Jesus warns us about the importance of forgiveness – there are consequences – even torture. I wish I could tell you how to forgive someone who has hurt you so badly. I only know that we must do it for the sake of our future. But, what I do know for sure is that with God all things are possible.
Let us pray, dear Jesus, teach us how to forgive those who have hurt us. Help us to come clean in our hearts by forgiving those who have sinned against us. Send your Holy Spirit to us and give us the power of forgiveness. Lord, we love you so much and pray to do your will. Amen.