I apologize that I haven’t written in awhile and we have been continuing our voyage through Matthew. I will also apologize in advance that this post will probably not be thoroughly proofread as I am wanting to get this out.
As Chapter 18 closes Jesus responds to Peter’s question about forgiveness. Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother and Jesus basically told him not to keep track. Many times we will forgive someone a once or twice but after a period write them off as loss. Jesus suggest that instead we continue to extend grace as is necessary.
This is difficult for a number of reasons. First is the fact that because this is a fallen and broken world filled with fallen and broken people and as such a lot of damage can be done from one person to another. We can be hurt physically, emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually as we are assaulted on any number of fronts. Asking that we forgive someone who has inflicted tremendous pain on us is a tall order to say the least. Second we are not wired to forget such offenses and they can continue to impact us for years after the actual event and as we hold on to that pain it becomes ingrained and even more difficult to let go of. Third we come up with all sorts of reasons why we shouldn’t forgive, things like, they don’t deserve it, they haven’t earned it, they aren’t really sorry, or they will just do it again. Fourth, we feel the person has to “pay” for what they have done. Many times a person does something and it seems there are no consequences for their actions and our sense of justice demands they are held to account and because they aren’t we find it difficult to forgive. There could be other reasons as well, but these are the most common.
To help us put things in perspective Jesus tells a story about someone who was forgiven a great sum impossible for them to pay and yet that same person was unwilling to forgive a much more modest sum they were owed. This landed the person in hot water and we are warned that God may do the same to us if we are equally limited in our wiliness to forgive. As we approach Easter it is a great time to remember what tremendous cost was paid on our behalf that we might be forgiven and what all we have been forgiven. As we face this great task of extending grace here are some reminders.
One, because of Christ death on the Cross, forgiveness is attainable. Before He went to the cross He knew every sin you would commit and He decided that you were worth it and went to the cross anyway. By His actions we can be forgiven far more than we could ever repay.
Two, we do not deserve this, did not earn it, could never repay it, may repeat our sins, and by in large have escaped the worst consequences for these actions, that is eternal separation from God.
Three, we are not worthy of this nor could we ever do anything to make ourselves worth.
Four, as those that have been redeemed God has chosen to forget our sin and look at us only as sinless, not the terrible creatures that we are, but the glorious beings we shall one day become.
Five, forgiveness is not an event but a process, it can take a lot of time to get there but we should try.
Six, forgiving someone will help you far more than it will help them. Often the rock of hate / anger / contempt we hold on to will cause more damage to us than the lack of forgiveness to the other person.
Seven, it is equally important to forgive ourselves.
Eight, if God has chosen to forget something maybe we should to.
Nine, just like us, many times the consequences for a person’s sin were paid by Christ. Again if that payment was good enough for God, maybe it should be for us as well.
Ten. Grace is paramount. If the church is going to grow and effect change how it was intended, it must be willing to extend grace far more than anything else.
This is a tough lesson, but one we all need to hear, learn, and heed.