“But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’” Matthew 18:28 (NKJV)
I’m gonna start this off by lifting a pondering from author John Bevere. “I wonder how many Christians would want God to forgive them in the same way they have forgiven those who have offended them.” This pondering has been a daily occupant in my head for about a month now (at the time of this writing the rent is still due) and it has been pretty convicting. Apparently, I suffer from an affliction known as “a bad temper?” and it seems to show itself when I have convinced myself that I have been wronged.
It was really bad while I was still a resident of Secularland. I had no problem going after my mom, my dad, my brother and sister, aunts, uncles, cousins, teachers, cops, my wife, my kids, friends, my employers, the family dog (the list is longer but I better stop there) anytime that I felt I was wronged by them BUT after a stroll on the Romans Road and a salvation prayer later I found new folks to go after…CHRISTIANS!! Yeah, I know, that may be a terrible thing to admit but I know I ain’t alone in this either. Anyway…
What I seem to do now is take what I think is a wrongdoing, place it on my personal set of scales, use my own reasoning as a counterweight and if I feel there is no proper balance to what has been done to me…BOOM…instant upset. “Well, this needs to be righted!! Where did I put that sword? AH-HA!! Here it is…”Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.” (Matthew 18:15a) Oh I’ve been sinned against alright, now it’s time to go straighten out his fault.” Before ya know it, forgiveness has been lost and the only thing I’ve won over is a big pile of hurt feelings and resentment. What a wretched man I can be.
I think somewhere along the road of our thinking we divide the idea of forgiveness into two different parts. There is God’s forgiveness of sin and then there is our forgiveness of others. We’re really humbled that the Creator of the universe forgives us and we realize that we actually have no control over that. We love the notion that He has removed our transgressions as far as the east is from the west BUT when it comes to us showing that same kind of forgiveness to others, let’s just say we tend to attach “the bill” to it. Maybe this is why Jesus had to give us a deep lesson on how forgiveness really works.
Take what is shared in Matthew 18 for instance. What starts off with something as simple as being humble as a child ends with you ain’t forgiven if you ain’t forgiving. But somewhere in between what Jesus is teaching we see this…
“Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” (Matthew 18:21)
Now I’ve heard much in the way of preaching on where Peter was coming from with posing this kinda question to Jesus but in the fall back I have wondered it myself. Can’t we just keep it at three strikes and you’re out? After all, isn’t clear to everyone that the person who keeps the behavior of offense going clearly is the one with problem and needs to be disciplined? And who’s gonna be impressed with my ability to forgive anyone up to seven times anyway? Might as well get the sword and do me some surgery, that’ll show’em. C’est la guerre!! But this ain’t what Jesus is trying to teach us.
It seems that humility and forgiveness go hand in hand, but like I said earlier we sometimes think things should go into two separate boxes. Stuff that God controls and stuff we control. It’s okay when God humbles us by forgiving us but we seem to lose that when it has to be turned around and we have to exercise being humble in order to be forgiving. It’s an interesting paradox that needs to explored.
So, what’s a boy to do in a situation like this? Well, if you’re saying a whole lotta Christianese stuff at this point you’re probably not that far off. But as for today, I am still left with this thought, “I wonder how many Christians would want God to forgive them in the same way they have forgiven those who have offended them.” And now I gotta add, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?” I kinda hope I’ve put this into your head as well and maybe someone will be able to collect the rent. Amen?
Written by Chris Hughes: Chris is a husband, a father, has an education in Biblical doctrine and is a graduate of The Colony of Mercy. He has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org