In Part 1 of this blog series we looked at Exodus 8 and how Pharaoh waited a day to have Moses ask God to get rid of the frogs. Carrying unforgiveness around in your heart is like carrying a bunch of frogs around with you. Forgiveness allows us to get rid of these frogs. If you did not read Part 1 of this blog series, you can read it here.
In Part 2, I shared a bit about my personal story and my journey to learn what real forgiveness was. If you did not read Part 2 of this blog series, you can read it here.
In Part 3, I discussed the ideas of admitting we need help, taking responsibility for our own happiness, stop putting it off, and turning your mess into your message. If you did not read Part 3 of this blog series, you can read it here.
In Part 4, I discussed the two major turning points in my life and how one of those turning points involved true forgiveness. If you did not read Part 4 of this blog series, you can read it here.
In Part 5, I discussed some reasons why we fake forgiveness. If you did not read Part 5 of this blog series, you can read it here.
In Part 6, I discussed some of the things that forgiveness is not. If you did not read Part 6 of this blog series, you can read it here.
In Part 7, I discussed what forgiveness is. If you did not read Part 7 of this blog series, you can read it here.
In Part 8, I discussed some ways you can know that you have forgiven someone. If you did not read Part 8 of this blog series, you can read it here.
In Part 9, we looked at the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6 and discussed the importance Jesus puts on forgiveness. If you did not read Part 9 of this blog series, you can read it here.
Matthew 18:21-35 (NIV)
The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of goldwas brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had been sold to repay the debt.
26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
28 “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.
29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’
30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.
32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
So how often do we need to forgive? It’s not about how many times we forgive. It’s about our heart. Our grace towards others should never run out just as God’s grace towards us never runs out. The answer to how many times should we forgive is not seven times or even 70 times seven. The answer is that we should forgive all the time. That is what God does for us. We forgive others because we are followers of Jesus and that is what Jesus did. That is one of the ways we honor our Lord. It’s a way of life that each of us can choose to live.
In this parable that Jesus tells, the servant who gets his debt forgiven by his masters turns around and is then not willing to forgive someone who owed him money. This is a classic case of hypocrisy. We can relate this story to God. God is the master and we are the servant. God has forgiven our debt through the blood of His Son. If we then do not forgive others when they do wrong things to us, we are the ones who are the hypocrites. We need to forgive others just as God has forgiven us. If we choose not to forgive others then God has every right to not forgive us of our own debts. This would not be a good thing. I think it is much easier to just forgive others when you look at it from this point of view.