Matthew 18 -- 20
Peter asked a far more important question than he realized when he said to Jesus: Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? And Jesus said unto him, I say not unto you, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22).
You can be sure that Peter thought he was being exceedingly generous, long-suffering, and merciful in choosing seven. This was twice as many times as allowed by the traditions of the Scribes, and then he added one more, a total of seven times. To fail to forgive anyone of their few sins against us while expecting Christ to forgive us of all our sins against Him for a lifetime has serious consequences.
The Lord gives an illustration of a servant who owed ten thousand talents to his King. The amount is a huge debt, impossible to repay even in a lifetime. The servant therefore fell down, and worshiped Him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants, which owed him only a hundred pence, a small amount compared to 10,000 talents, but he . . . took him by the throat, saying, Pay me what you owe. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay you all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison. . . . When his lord was made aware of what took place, he was angry, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall My Heavenly Father do also unto you, if you from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses (18:24-35). Jesus made it clear that true salvation consists not only of being reconciled with God but in our becoming reconciled with our fellowman.
If the forgiving love of God does not humble us, it hardens us. An unforgiving spirit is all too willing to remember and expose the wrongs done by others. But, when the love of God has control of our hearts, we will find it much easier to forgive others and not to demand "our rights" nor exact "our dues." Be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32).
The law of unlimited forgiveness is one of the essential laws of God's Kingdom. It is His daily mercy and forgiveness which gives all of us hope. We could never pay for the accumulated sins against God in a lifetime. His forgiveness makes it possible for us to be pardoned from all our sins. Consequently, it is essential that we express the same unqualified, forgiving love toward our fellowmen. Jesus taught us to daily pray forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors (Matthew 6:12).
For Matthew 18:16: See Deut. 19:15. Matt. 19:4: See Gen. 1:27; 5:2. Matt. 19:5: See Gen. 2:24. Matt. 19:7: See Deut. 24:1-4. Matt. 19:18: See Ex. 20:13-16; Deut. 5:17-20. Matt. 19:19: See Ex. 20:12; Lev. 19:18; Deut. 5:16.
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Memory Verse for the Week: