Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
Forgiveness is a very big deal to God because He has a forgiving nature. And because He has forgiven us so much, He expects us to do the same for others. Today’s scripture tells a story that makes that point perfectly.
We have to understand that the debt owed by the unforgiving servant was so enormous that it could never be paid back in full. (Think in terms of millions of dollars.) For the servant to even suggest that he would repay it was silly, and the king surely knew that. But in spite of the impossibility, the king forgave the entire debt and let the servant go.
By the same token, the debt owed by the fellow servant was incredibly easy to pay back. (Think in terms of less than $100.) After the first servant had been forgiven an impossible debt, he was unwilling to let a friend go from his comparably minor obligation. And that’s why the king was so furious. He put the original debt back in place and threw the servant in jail until it could be fully paid back.
The debt we owe to God can never be paid back – at least, not without His help. Our sins are great enough that we can never make them up to God on our own. Yet He allows us to ask for forgiveness, and He’s faithful to let it go at that. But when we hold grudges against people – for any reason – that unforgiveness prevents Him from forgiving us. It’s like it says in the Lord’s Prayer – “Forgive us our tresspasses (sins) as we forgive those who trespass (sin) against us.” He will forgive us in the same measure that we forgive others.
The next time that someone treats you unfairly or sins against you, remember the story of the unforgiving servant and do the opposite of what he did. Have a forgiving heart and be willing to forgive “seventy times seven” times so that you won’t have any obstacles to God’s forgiveness of you.
Reflection copyright © 2014 Doug DeBolt.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.